A clean India is everyone’s liability

Transformation of society is possible if government can put its ideas together and then rope in the private sector, NGOs, trusts

The greatest fear about the Swachh Bharat events of October 2, in which more than three million government employees took the “Swachchhta Shapath (cleanliness pledge)”, is that the mass movement may lose momentum once the grand tokenism of leaders wielding brooms cools off. It is not only the clutter of government offices, their accumulated waste and their far-from-aesthetic surroundings that have to be overturned for a smart new India to spring forth, leaving behind the “chalta hai” attitude of generations. Human habitations throughout India have to be cleaned up to ensure healthier surroundings.

Mahatma Gandhi may have run his cleanliness drives by wielding the broom himself to break the caste system ingrained in centuries of social life in India, but his successors must bring in the sweeping reform in order to promise every Indian a better life, regardless of caste and creed. Towards this, there is much to be done. Rivers must not be dirtied by using them as drains to carry waste.

The air we breathe must be cleaner and devoid of organisms from stealthy dumping or burning of hospital waste. And such abominable practices as human beings going down drains to clean them and carrying night soil must stop. This is where technology can help most.

The harnessing of technology in sustaining cleanliness by taking care of solid waste management is a must. The work force handling cleaning should be so well paid and equipped with protection like gloves and uniforms that old caste prejudices should disappear so that more of the so-called “higher castes” can enjoy the dignity of labour as it exists and as we have come to admire it in more advanced societies in the First World. A true transformation of society is possible if the government can put its ideas together and then rope in the private sector, NGOs, trusts and social activists to drive the campaign.

A structured plan to sustain Swachh Bharat from the block level to the metropolises alone can help remove the stench of garbage permeating places of habitation. Tax write-offs of two per cent for the corporate sector should be incentive enough for the creation of a more studied action plan to tackle the problem of garbage disposal in every major city in India.

The lethargy of government has for too long allowed us to be inured to unhygienic spaces outside our immediate homes, although every Indian must accept the blame for his own slovenliness in public spaces. The garbage bag, the dumpster trucks and landfills can be better monitored to ensure better results. To give the next generation a cleaner India is a task we cannot duck anymore. The time for action began the minute the photo opportunities with politicians and bureaucrats got over.

( Source : dc )
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