India is an ancient civilization and was considered to be a pious nation. People follow their faiths very devotedly. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, etc., all follow the religions which are very close to the nature. All religions are talking about how we have to be connected and take care of our Mother Earth. Sadly, it seems that it was and it is practiced only in the kitchen and in the religious activities.
There are three very important things in Indian culture: good food, good clothes and clean home! It seems like we keep our homes perfectly clean, but we are not concerned about keeping our streets, parks, lanes and other public places dirt-free. We don’t feel that this is our responsibility.
Mahatma Gandhi was a great champion of cleanliness. He was very much concerned about the dirty roads, streets and temples. When he returned from South Africa he started motivating people to make the country filth free. Apart from preparing people for mass struggle against Britishers, he also lectured them about cleanliness.
“A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150 birth anniversary in 2019!”
It was a year ago, when Prime Minister ShriNarenda Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission. On 2nd of October 2014, a day of Gandhi′s birthday, he swept the road and showed the country that everyone is responsible to make India a clean place again. It was clearly declared that this is not only the duty of the government, but each and every citizen in the country!
Modi′s government took this challenge or task as one of its priorities to make India clean. Aim is to provide sanitation facilities to every family, including toilets, solid and liquid waste disposal systems, village cleanliness and safe drinking water.
Today, we are celebrating the first anniversary of the campaign and it is important to overlook – what did we achieve in the last year?
Everything started with a huge event, where many celebrities, sport starts, singers, actors and actress were invited and most of them joined the movement. Social media was full of news and photos. Schools were planting trees and cleaning their campuses. Local circles were created to connect people from whole India. It was and it is a beautiful idea, but it seems it was not realized in a way it should have been.
After a while everything became very quiet. There were no news in the media, no acts or changes and it seemed like everyone forgot about the pact which we started last year. Many people are asking themselves if we achieved any of the goals and even more people are asking themselves: “where did all the money go?”
It is not all black and white. According to the local circles, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh have shown significant improvement. Still there are 23 states left which hasn’t achieved any of the targets. If we talk about India as a whole, the biggest achievement was raising awareness among school children and that was the major part of the campaign.
Maybe the results would be seen after couple of years. The campaign started with huge events and publicity; however, suddenly it has disappeared in daily habits of people.These events might be an important part of the campaign, but I don’t think it can help India in long run. What might help would be to change our mindset as rightly said by our PM.
What can be done? Clean India does not mean only cleaning roads. It is important to teach people how to segregate waste, talk about good practises from India and from around the world. Let′s teach people in a way that taking care of the environment is not an obligation but a way of living and daily habits. Municipalities should be more involved in the process and so does the government. I believe there should be laws, which will help us to achieve the goals. In the past there was a law to ban plastic bags, but it wasn’t enforced neither monitored by us and again, we let it disappear. But this time, let′s bring all good practices from the past and enable them to operate again.
Some people will might say, that we didn’t achieve anything in this year. It will not be right to point at people because we are all responsible – it was and it is a national movement. It is more important to highlight all the achievements and talk about them. Highlight all the good practices and show people that we can change the reality. And whatever was not done, we have to learn from those mistakes and try harder this time to achieve the goals.
If we want to change everything, we need everyone. And as, Baapu said – Be the change you want to see in the world!
Member of Vatavaran team