Thursday, 2 October 2014

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Or Clean India - Does It Meet The Problem?

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, just launched by our Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi is the in thing nowadays; everyone - well, almost - is interested and full of praise for this effort, which is beyond even a shade of doubt a very praiseworthy initiative as  such. People are, for the first time,  talking about cleanliness, about dustbins, about Civic Sense & about presenting a clean India. Our PM makes no bones about this - it is a long term initiative, and will require consistent effort and follow-ups for it to be successful. 

He is the second celebrity personality to endorse a clean India campaign, and the first person from the echelons of power. The first was, of course, Aamir Khan with his incredible India campaign of a few years ago. Viewed as a standalone effort, this current campaign is most welcome, and highly praiseworthy. We are indeed lucky to have someone at the level of the PM drive this. He has got the attention of the nation; everyone in the middle class at least seems to be in on it.

But look a little deeper - not at the PM, or his highly noteworthy initiative, but at the system and at your own selves. I respectfully submit that there is precisely nothing to be glad about, or be excited about. I equally respectfully submit that it is a matter of national shame, not something to gloat about. It is not a flippant matter; it cuts to  the core of our being, our habits, our attitude. Cleanliness has been called next to godliness in English; you dont pray to God without bathing and wearing fresh clean clothes even in Sanaatan Dharm {Hinduism}. Further, there are 2 aspects to this - the personal aspect and the system aspect, as I observed above.



THE PERSONAL ASPECT

In light of the above, if someone like Narendra Modi - who should be focusing on the economy, the Armed Forces, and other major aspecs - is giving his valuable time to it, then it is both a complete waste of time, as well as a deeply disturbing act that should cause our heads to hang in shame, not burst in joy and partake in flippant & senseless Whatsapp pledges to keep the nation clean! 

Do you really require the Prime Minister of your country to tell you keep your nation clean? Do you really require to be told to throw things in dustbins? Do you really require to be told to keep your city clean, not throw waste outside your home? Do you really need to be told to throw the waste inside the dustbin, not in its general direction? You dont clutter your home - then, in that case, if you throw garbage on the road, what does this behaviour say about you as a person? And, if you keep your home and the elegant hotels and cinemas you visit clean, why cant you keep your nation clean? This, Ladies and Gentlemen {including people of my family, who will read this on the Whatsapp groups}, makes you nothing but hypocrites. This is textbook hypocrisy. AND, if you require a person at the level of the PM for a reminder, then my friends, you are selfish as well as hypocrites. 

If I can carry an empty bottle all the way from Mumbra to Chinchpokli - some 40 Kms, get down from the train, walk to the dustbin, and throw it - why cant you? If I can carry a paper wrapper for my samosas all the way from Kalyan to Chinchpokli - 54 Kms, get down from the train, walk to the dustbin, and throw it - why cant you? Making senseless Whatsapp pledges, praising Modiji, idolising him does not make India clean, Sir and Madames / Madamoiselles! Change your attitude towards India, be selfless, view it as your home, and internalise cleanliness. 

You know something - I have just proved my own hypocrisy. You see, even I can recall a couple of instances when I have thrown an empty mineral water bottle after crushing it. But at least, I have the courage to own up to it in written for all the public to read it. At least I have been trying - for some several years now - to not clutter up my nation. I,  at least, have  been making a willing, conscious effort to clean  up my act. I, at least, do not want, need or require a Mr Narendra Modi to come and remind me to be clean! I much rather prefer that he runs my nation, and not sweep it! Shame on you, everyone! Shame on all of us!



THE SYSTEM PROBLEM

The scene : Kalyan Station. Location - just outside the Railway Station. Very near to 2 temples, two eateries. A huge pile of trash, rotting and stinking. This was the regular scene for every single day till the day I left Kalyan in September of this  year. Why isnt this clean, despite there being a municipal authority whose task it is to clean it up? Why do I, a Citizen, a tax-payer have to bear with the filth and the rot?

Similar scenes of neglect can be spotted across the length and breadth of India. Clean India requires an efficient and functioning garbage collection and disposal system. It requires a network of public facilities like dustbins, urinals etc. It requires a functioning and diligent municipal and governmental machinery in each and every state, district, tehsil, taluka and pargana of the nation. Do we have that? Far too obviously, we dont. 

What is this Government doing to clean up the act of the various State and Central Government bodies that we interact with daily? What is it doing to ensure that public servant get sincere and do their tasks? Please keep in mind that ensuring timely office attendance alone does not ensure that the tasks get done. What is it doing to ensure that Garbage collection will happen daily from every locality? If not daily, then at least on alternate days? 

Simply cleaning up the streets once is not the answer. What happens to the waste after that? Is there a cohesive action plan to deal with this waste on a regular basis? Is there an action plan to ensure that the people who are responsible for this do their duties? That they dont collect the trash and create a stinking heap somewhere in public? That the  garbage vehicle come regularly, and dumps the trash not in the street, but in a landfill? Where is the plan? I  cant see any!



IN SUMMARY

But, of course, people will say give NaMo time. He is new, he is fresh, at least he is trying, you cant judge in 120 days etc. Does this mean that no administrative reforms will get attended to? How will he change the system? Has anyone taken the trouble to ask NaMo? If not, then why not? Does it not concern us? So tell me, does this adulation mean that I cant even question the adequacy of the actions of my own Prime Minister? Is this the way Democracy is supposed to function? Does this mean that I cant even point out where his action may not prove to be enough and sufficient? Dont I have that Democratic Right?

Frankly, we are a people who throw bottles, wrappers, other waste on the roads, we spit pan on the road, we urinate anywhere we damn well please, ignore the non-performance of the Governmental staff {but that is another story, so I shall let it pass here},  and then take pledges for cleanliness! There is no need for pledges; just stop spitting, throwing waste, urinating in the open. 

It is possible - I did it. I was just like you all once in the not-too-distant past; I still am like you - but only occasionally. For me, the task is to move from 98% to 100%. And for that, I dont want, need or require a pledge, or indeed Narendra Modi. I know I have to do it, it is my home, my country, my nation. It is my duty as a citizen of India, my lovely India!

And if we require a person of the calibre of the PM to waste his time on this, shame on us! Especially since we  have a highly efficient person like Narendra Modi1. My very dear countrymen, we are all wasting his time as well as the nation's time by involving such an august personality in such a frivolous exercise, time which could have been more productively used elsewhere! Shame on all of us!

2 comments:

  1. On the one hand, the PM is doing something good. On the other, he is shrewd enough to know how to draw people, how to charm them and that is just what he is doing. Anyway, the upshot is good. So let it be.

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    1. I dont deny that there is some good that will come out of this - I make that clear above. My point is that systemic change is required - and deep personal introspection

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