Cleanliness: A national responsibility

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Oct 2017 08:52:28


By Anshuman Bhargava,

It is the youth and the young who have the power to fight, force and convince. If they join hands with the PM in his cleanliness mission, we can see a big surge forward towards realising our dream of having a clean nation. India’s strength is its population and its huge human resources and the enormous amount of untapped potential of its people

PRIME Minister Narendra Modi’s recent remark that even 1,000 Mahatma Gandhis cannot achieve the goal of a ‘clean India’ without the participation of 125 crore Indians is not an overstatement. Cleanliness is a national responsibility and it must be shared by all concerned citizens.

Addressing a gathering to mark the three years of the Swachh Bharat mission, Modi said he had been severely criticised when he initiated the programme and stepped out with a broom to launch it. Today, however, the results are for everyone to see. Opposition parties, just for the sake of opposing it, had mocked the initiative of the Prime
Minister as a gimmick. Naysayers were suspicious and many thought it was an attempt at gaining political mileage. But none of them true.

Cleanliness has been a mission for Modi and he is untiringly working towards making the mission a successful model at social regeneration. Today hundreds of districts and towns in the country are flaunting the ‘open defecation free’ tag. Thousands of people who defecated in the open are now using the public toilets thousands of which have been built by respective civic bodies across the country.

Hygiene and cleanliness are basic tenets of a civilised way of life and it is our culture of littering that is an eyesore for foreign tourists coming to India. Almost every tourist place of repute has defaced walls and littered grounds. Our public loos and train toilets are among the filthiest in the world. There had to be a national consciousness which could force us to rethink our ways of living, and this is what PM Modi has generated through his aggressive championing of the noble cause. Maintaining that it was essential for children to wash their hands before eating as unhygienic conditions had led to several children dying, the Prime Minister said when he flagged the issue people asked how they would get soap and water.

“...If you have to abuse Modi, there are a thousand (other) issues...but we should neither make fun nor politicise issues which are meant to bring about change in society,” he said. Children are a major force and if they are taught from early childhood the importance of personal hygiene as well as their social responsibility of keeping the country clean, they can be the change makers of tomorrow.

It is the youth and the young who have the power to fight, force and convince. If they join hands with the PM in his cleanliness mission, we can see a big surge towards realising our dream of having a clean nation. India’s strength is its population and its huge human resources and the enormous amount of untapped potential of its people.
They must be mobilised and involved in the nation-building process and this is exactly what the PM has been trying. People are reluctant to change and by force of habit, any new thing is greeted with jeer and doubt. People want status quo and oppose any drastic conditioning of their way of life, so inured are they to a particular tradition or practice, even if those habits are wrong.

Political parties take advantage of such mindset and play it up to their advantage. It takes courage, determination and focus to be harbingers of change. It needs a dogged persistence and a principled stand for a noble cause. It needs a sustained urge and indomitable positivity. These are the qualities which set the Prime Minister apart from other leaders.

Despite all the odds coming his way, the Prime Minister held on to his belief and carried forward his mission. Ultimately, his efforts are reaping rewards today. People are coming forward and realising that a healthy nation has to be a clean nation. It is the lack of cleanliness and sense and awareness of hygienic practices that is the root cause of several health ailments that perennially dog India, burdening the exchequer with the huge cost of taming and treating an unhealthy population. If people are a little up and going, educated and concerned, conscientious and nation lovers, they would do all in their hand to make their surroundings and society clean. In the process, they will only make their own lives and their children’s lives better. It is no big deal and doesn’t cost a bomb either. It only needs willingness and adaptability.

Any citizen of the country who loves his/her country, will and should support the government’s efforts led by the PM himself and make the country dirt and litter free. Small measures by each individual are enough to change the face of the nation. Unity and collective collaboration can undoubtedly bring in seminal changes in our outlook and character. Politics is certainly not above national interest and a good cause must be supported by all because the nation is ultimately ours, even as governments will come and go. It is ultimately a matter of our international image and prestige. A country’s social behaviour tells a lot about the country’s prospects and its people’s cultural richness or the lack of it. A dirty country is sidelined and downplayed.

India is on the cusp of great economic and social resurgence and our filthy roads, rivers, and toilets must not spoil those chances. This is India’s time and the country has to spruce herself up for a new era. Cleanliness is an area that has been long neglected by governments. And basically, it is not even a government’s job to cleanse us.

It is our responsibility and we the people have the power and duty to keep our houses, our streets, ourselves, our gardens, our railway stations and our water bodies squeaky clean. No one else is going to do it for us if we don’t do it.
And what greater energy and spirit can we ever have with us when the PM of the nation himself has taken up the broom to clean the streets? Other leaders must take a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and do the same to support the cause of nation-building. Every leader from whatever party he or she belongs to must go to his/her constituency and inspire and involve people right from the grassroots to give impetus to the mission.

Unless there are all-around cooperation and engagement of all, irrespective of our political ideologies, no leader or government can alone change the fortunes of the people. It is we, the people, who make our destiny. The country’s future is in our hands.

We have started a battle to defeat filth and we can rest only after winning the war. If we lose, we lose face. It is we all, the people of the country, who will be partakers of the collective shame that will cling to us like a historical stigma. It is now or never!