An Endemic Problem

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Nov 2018 11:19:03


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By ANSHUMAN BHARGAVA,

Civic hygiene or rather the lack of it is an endemic problem in most of India that spawns several diseases otherwise easily preventable. It is not just the laxity of the government departments that should be held responsible for such a trend; it also falls on the people to act right and smart .

 It is easy to heap the blame on the administration because officially it is the one responsible for civic management but it also must be taken into cognizance that a Government or administration alone cannot set things right unless there are people’s participation and cooperation. It is easier to destroy and fail a system than building it.

 

JABALPUR and its surrounding places have been gripped by dengue and chikungunya due to lack of proper sanitation and cleaning. A division bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising Chief Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Atul Sreedharan has issued notices to the Principal Secretary, Department of Urban Administration, Bhopal, Municipal Commissioner, Jabalpur Municipal Corporation, Health Officer, Director Health Services Madhya Pradesh Bhopal and Collector, Jabalpur and asked them to file their reply before the High Court and set a two week time for the next hearing.


The petitioner has sought directions for the sanitation and cleaning of garbage and maintaining the public health at war footing to safeguard the public of Jabalpur from the situation of the epidemic as prescribed under Article 243 (W) as also in the 12th Schedule of Constitution of India. That the inaction on the part of respondent Municipal Corporation, Jabalpur, is per se illegal, arbitrary, and capricious is challenged on various facts and grounds. The petitioner also prayed interim relief before the court to direct the respondent Municipal Corporation to maintain the hygiene in the city and prevent the loss of Human life immediately, pending final adjudication of this instant writ petition.


Civic hygiene or rather the lack of it is an endemic problem in most of India that spawns several diseases otherwise easily preventable. It is not just the laxity of the Government departments that should be held responsible for such a trend; it also falls on the people to act right and smart and do well to keep away diseases.


It is easy to heap the blame on the administration because officially, it is the one responsible for civic management but it also must be taken into cognisance that a Government or administration alone cannot set things right unless there is people’s participation and cooperation. It is easier to destroy and fail a system than building it. Even if the administration does its duty of fogging mosquito-prone areas and clearing the drains and nullahs if people don’t change their habits, the diseases will again come back. This is what actually happens. It is not that the health department does nothing but their actions are nullified by people’s dirty habits of piling garbage, throwing litter all around and allowing water pits to stagnate and breed mosquitoes. We people have the habit of waiting for the Government to do everything for us without ourselves taking even the simplest initiatives.


We spend thousands of rupees in unfruitful pursuits just for pleasure or for honouring blind beliefs, but won’t spare a penny to keep our surroundings clean through proper disposal of garbage and regular cleaning. The Government cannot force people to adopt good habits. Force can work for some time but if people are not conscientious, the old habits will return before long.

Even the spread of education and awareness has not been able to change our habits and recalcitrant tendencies. We find excuses and escape routes for our incompetence and inaction and try to locate people and things to blame for all the ills we face in society without ever looking at ourselves and our societal commitments. The same mentality to a great extent plagues our Government work culture as well, wherein every official and every department tries to shirk responsibility and pass it on to someone else. When both governments and people become slack and dependent on each other, work suffers and society decays because no one really works with the same honesty and alacrity that a work deserves. Courts can reprimand institutions and pass orders but unless people’s mentality changes society cannot change. Government is after all made of people like us. It is not an alien group of professionals bestowed on us to do our work. Malaria, dengue and other such mosquito-bred diseases have largely been controlled in developed societies by people’s participation and Government actions but in India, these are still major killers every year.


Despite sufficient awareness on ways to prevent these traditional diseases, people take them casually and don’t adopt the simple precautionary steps like keeping their surroundings clean and using mosquito net at night, in the end suffering the consequences.


Due to our carelessness, the country suffers disease burden of millions of rupees and our human development indices take a beating. It is unfortunate that the court has to interfere in such public issues which we ourselves should be capable of solving.


If we need constant spoon feeding, we can never come up as a developed nation because for a nation to develop, each one of us needs to contribute our bit to the best of our mental and physical capacity, which today we don’t. Countries like Japan and China are today developing so fast just because of people’s heightened involvement in nation-building.


It is not about just doing our job and going home, oblivious of our social liabilities. It is walking that extra mile to make society good that really matters for the country’s betterment. Here we typically falter because nation to most of us is still a nebulous ‘concept,’ not a ‘reality’ to serve. We want every goodie from the nation without being much serious of how much we are giving back. Giving back doesn’t mean doing great things all the time but doing the smallest day to day things in a great way, with perfection and dedication.

We simply don’t have this and this sets us back by miles and aeons from our peer societies in other countries. However, since we are not that evolved yet, the Government will need to be more pro-active in taking preventive measures to check the spread of these diseases.
Hospitals have to be better equipped to treat those affected and more intense awareness measures have to be taken up through the greater part of the year. Piecemeal efforts don’t make the cut; it has to be a concerted and sustained effort as we had for polio or like we have seen in the clean India mission. Anagnwadis, village PHCs and NGOs must be involved in a big way to help the Government in regular tracking and monitoring of the on-ground situation for early detection, intervention and stopping of the spread of the diseases.


By the way, even if we cannot completely root out dengue and malaria, the best we can do is to at least check their spread and limit their impact by quick medical attention to the victims. Here the Government has a major role to play where it has to be more attentive and accountable. Delay in locating, tracking and deciphering a disease and subsequent delay in action is a major health policy flaw in the country we must guard against.