This is the first article of the year and I wanted to make a clean start to the year. So what better way to start than to write my views on Swachh Bharat campaign.
Last year, our Prime Minister Modiji launched the Swachh India campaign. But beyond the showmanship and a few starts here and there, the overall campaign needs a more sustained effort and participation of all. While I believe showmanship is necessary for creating the awareness, the success of any such program usually lies in breaking it down to simple steps that anyone can do repeatedly. This new year if all of us can adopt some simple steps we could make the dream of Swachh India come true.
Here are some such steps:
- Carry a Backpack: Carrying a backpack is one of the coolest things in college. Makes a dude look cool and brainy. Now how about carrying the backpack always with you when you go to the shops.And the next time the shop keeper gives you stuff in a polythene bag, say no to the polythene bag and stack the stuff in your backpack. This idea works in so many ways, first of all gives your back a nice back building exercise, helps reduce the use of polythene bags which is one of the single biggest hazard to the nature these days, teaches you to say no in an agreeable manner (If you want a career in management, this is the first feedback you will receive – “You need to say No in an agreeable manner“) and to top it all puts a smile on the small shopkeeper for whom even that polythene bag cuts into his/her profit.
Stat Attack: At last count, our population was roughly around 1.21 billion people. Imagine if this year, each person just refuses two polythene bags in the whole year, we reduce the usage of 2.42 billion polythene bags. Of course, this population count includes children and others who might not be buying stuff, but you get the drift of the idea!!
Reference: Not convinced about the effects of polythene bags, check this out: http://dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/PlasticBags/Articles/Googobits_07-21-05.pdf
- Carry a Polythene bag during your travels: Hold on guys, I am not giving a viewpoint diametrically opposite to the above point. The idea is to carry the bag as a handy recycle bin. Usually in my travels, I would keep collecting the eatable wastes and others in the polythene bag till I come across a waste bin or disposal point. I would then empty the contents of the polythene bag and continue with my travels. Of course, sometimes you have to dispose the polythene altogether, but generally you can reuse it. In India, I used to be the exception and a lot of people used to watch me do this routine curiously. But in Japan, this is the norm with each traveler carrying his own disposal mechanism. What might surprise a lot of us is that even smokers in Japan carry a portable ash tray to collect the cigarette waste and not allow it to fall on the roads. Now that is some commitment!!
Stat Attack: Indian Railways serve around 13 million passengers every day. On an average day Indian Railways operates 11000 trains. Now picture the current state of the trains at the final destination and think what if each passenger had carried his own polythene bag during his travel!!
Reference: Interested in cleanliness of one of our transportation lifelines? Check out the plan of the Railways Ministry to clean up the Railways: http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/railwayboard/uploads/directorate/traffic_comm/ACTION_PLAN_SWACHH_BHARAT.pdf
- Elders become guides: One of my pet peeves, with our previous generation is that though they taught us many great things, one area where they did not give us great guidance is in the area of public cleanliness. I think almost all of our parents taught us how to keep our house neat and clean and in order, but somehow most of them forgot to tell us how to keep things clean outside. So just push the dirt outside and our responsibility is over. Unfortunately, this has gone for too long. Now most of the people from that generation are either dadas or dadis and are more or less leading a nice retired life. It is a chance for them to atone this one mistake of theirs if they can take charge of their small building or their small society and keep a watch on the kids and teach them the values and rules of public cleanliness. This kind of social teaching is very common in Japan and is something that we can learn from. In the mornings when kids go to schools, a lot of elders man different streets keeping an eye out on the kids and will tell the kids off if they litter on the street and tell them where to dispose the garbage. Such a social initiative in India would be wonderful, especially keeping in mind the general connect between grand parents and kids in India.
Stat Attack: The current population of children in India is 440 million. If this social initiative can kick off, then we have prepared 440 million soldiers for our battle to keep India clean. That is a lot and one worth going the extra mile for!!
Reference: So what can we teach the children about cleanliness? Here is a list of items that the government plans to work on as part of this initiative: http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/upload_document/Eng_Swachch%20Bharat%20Swachch%20Vidhalaya.pdf
The first two points above are very simple and personal to every individual, while the third one is slightly more involved and is more at a social level. But such simple initiatives can go a long way in fulfilling the dream of a neat and clean India.