You must be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi
Well rightly said. Every Indian travels abroad to Dubai, Europe or the United States and appreciate how all these countries keep their roads so clean, whilst at the same time, the same Indians complain about how their own country is so bad.
This, at the end of the day is our own fault and only we can fix this. Keeping the country clean is not the job of a government only but needs public participation as well. It is quite easy to point fingers at government initiatives regarding cleanliness or local bodies sheer negligence in cleaning the surroundings but do we realize how little we are contributing to keep our locality clean?
Well it is quite hard to think. If I want to see my country clean, I need to change. I cannot expect change from others if I don’t change.
The cost that India incurs on cleanliness is as much as Rs2180 /head annually. i.e more or less Rs 2.4 trillion or $ 53.9 billion and guess what,this calculation in from 2006.
In fact the cost of poor hygiene for India would be as much as 6.4% of the GDP. This was just a study, the costs are much higher in real terms; that is if we measure the costs on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis which takes up the annual costs of poor hygiene to the economy to $ 161 billion or $ 46 per person.
There are other costs involved because of the Infant deaths, higher mortality rates among mothers which is caused by improper sanitation, lets not get into those numbers.
So Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan makes absolute economic sense as it can add 6% to the country’s GDP if we can pull it off. But the big question is whether we can maintain the initial momentum is in a big challenge. This is because cleaning up the country would cost a lot of resources and would require the govt to be involved at all levels. While as suggested above if you all take part in it and wouldn't mind to invest some peanuts of your income we can pull it off in a grand fashion.
However Government as well needs to take some more measures than just to rope in celebrities to increase the awareness and participate in campaign. Here are some issues that I think should be addressed as a part of this campaign.
Eliminate the inhumane and age old practice of manual scavenging within a stipulated time frame. Swacch Bharat abhiyan should focus on human dignity rather than merely on sanitation issues.
Technology should be adopted and people concerned people should be trained in the regard.
More importantly not just encourage people to clean the surroundings, make it a pledge to do so.
Teach cleanliness at school itself. Allow kids to clean and decorate their classrooms. Tell them to wash their tiffin boxes instead of taking the soiled boxes to home.
As service tax/CESS is added to each and everything we buy, instead of Swachh Bharath CESS paid by tax payers, authorities should fine people who spit on road or on roadsides. The penalty fee paid by these people will a. Make them understand that govt. is serious about cleanliness b. make them think twice before spitting in public.
CCTVs installed on roadsides for finding out people who violate traffic rules can be reused for point #2 though taking a photo as a proof may sound gross.
We all know that cattle is seen as divine creatures over here but it is annoying to see them standing adamantly on roads even though 20 cars are honking their horns.
Participating in Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan ,a government’s initiative to make India clean and a better place to live in doesn't mean just to take a broom and clean some dry waste and be happy that we cleaned India.
No it's not just that, there is more to it.
Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan should be a pledge we need to take. Here are few little things I will do to make and keep my India clean.
· Segregate waste at home in 2 separate bins - I will separate the dry and wet garbage at home and put it in designated garbage bins only. I will not throw it on the road or from the window and I will try to pursue my family members to do so. I will also urge society chairman to make it a mandatory rule in our society.
· Always carry a small poly-bag- We all know what plastic do to our environment. Inspite of its ill effects it hasn’t been completely banned till date or proper laws have not been implemented for its prohibition. Instead we can switch over to jute bags and biodegradable which are less harmful to environment.
· Re-use old bottles- One can do a lot of creative things with old plastic bottles instead of throwing them away.
· Compost pit- Its cheap, its useful. We can collect and separate out our food scraps before we head for the garbage bin. We can dig up a compost collection site in our area and take our scraps there weekly or just utilize it for our plants at home.
Some Other Measures include:
· Developing a decentralized waste management system in society.
· Biodegradable and kitchen waste to be used for biogas generations.
· Find innovative ways to keep our surroundings clean and green
like Slogans and quotes to encourage people to be a part of the clean India campaign.
· Throwing waste in dustbin only and encouraging people to do the same.
· Discourage practice of spitting in public places, will immediately condemn people if found doing so.
· Try to avoid usage of Plastic covers, plastic disposables. Teach Children about Cleanliness and Sanitation.
· Plant trees around my house.
· Separate Dry waste and wet waste in house, ease the work of municipality workers.
· I’ll try to join one of the NGOs working in our area towards cleaning of India. If not at least contribute to it in some way.
· Avoid personal transport whenever possible. Encourage Car Pooling if unavoidable. Instead try to use public transportation.
· Pool money along with our area mates and install large sized dustbins in the places where littering is done on the road or open place.
- Bhavya Bhatia
Final year student at JMC, Delhi University