The Indian Railways is truly the face of India. It represents every facet of India, be it population explosion or uncleanliness. A glimpse of the same greeted me during my recent travel from Dhanbad to Delhi. The moment I got down at Ghaziabad station to head back to my home in Noida, my senses were at the receiving end of unbearable stink and ghastly sight of garbage and even human waste.
The picture is in stark contrast to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Swachh Bharat' mission, announced on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary. While wielding the broom on October 02, the Prime Minister launched the ambitious 'Swachh Bharat' campaign that was joined by chief ministers, lawmakers and prominent personalities from various fields, along with lakhs of countrymen in a drive that is expected to cost nearly Rs 2 lakh crore over the next few years.
The PM had exuded confidence and said that if 125 crore countrymen decide not to ever spread filth, then no power in the world can make our villages or towns dirty. However, the most powerful man of India probably failed to understand his own people, who are in habit of littering.
The PM has a mountainous task ahead to make his pet project a success. For this, he has requested celebrities and influential people to push the 'Swachh Bharat' campaign. His request was well received and icons like Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan and many others have been doing their bit to keep the drive going. Though, there are some designer outfits clad celebrities who are coming out of their luxury zones with a broom in their hands only for photo-ops.
The PM rightly said that we are not as disciplined as westerners in terms of hygiene. The well educated metropolitans, who often view the people from rural or small town areas as the ones responsible for filth in cities, turn a blind eye to their own misdoings. When one crosses several bridges built on Yamuna river in Delhi, one can easily see sign boards highlighting the need to keep the river clean. But still, Delhiites and people from NCR throw puja materials into the river with their eyes wide open.
To realize the goal of 'Swachh Bharat' mission is a daunting task, as the majority of Indians love to litter, urinate, spit in public places; and this is a pan Indian phenomenon, not restricted to rural or urban areas.
You visit any famous place in India – be it Varanasi, Mumbai's Gateway of India, famous beaches in Goa, Delhi's India Gate, Vaishno Devi temple in J&K, Kolkata's Dakhineshwar temple and many others - one thing that will greet you everywhere is garbage.
Undoubtedly, Mr Modi has initiated a noble project, but he also needs to direct various government departments to set up appropriate garbage disposable systems. Some people do feel like throwing waste into dustbins, but cannot find one even after walking for kilometres, and this is loathsome. The end result is that one just throws the waste alongside the road. Besides focusing on sanitation programmes, the Modi government can pass a law which ensures strict punishment or hefty penalties for littering.
Postscript: In his first Independence Day speech PM Modi said, “Let us decide that in 2019 when we observe Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary, we will not let our village, city, country, school, colony, temple, hospital and all other areas remain dirty. It is not Government’s job, it is to be done by public participation.”
Our honourable Prime Minister has shown us the way on how to make this wonderful nation a beautiful place to live in. Now, let's not blame the government alone; the time has come for us to raise our own standards. Let's not break the chain of nine nominations.