Swachh Bharat is another Fugacious Issue

Prakash Javadekar, the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, on September 18, 2018, after awarding the Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar accolades to schools from different parts of the country, said that films like Toilet Ek Prem Katha and Padman imply a changing India that is obstinate to achieve cleanliness. On the words of Javadekar, cleanliness had now become a movement in which schools and students were playing a crucial role. A total of 52 schools selected from among 6.5 lakh, including over 45,000 private schools, were presented the Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar 2018 awards at the function organized by the HRD Ministry at the Ambedkar International Centre.It is a known fact that the HRD ministry had launched the Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya (SBSV) initiative in 2014 to make certain that all the schools in the country had access to separate serviceable toilets for boys and girls. The national awards for clean schools were based on a self-appraisal system, in which five parameters — drinking water, toilets, capacity building, behavioral change, and washing hands — were weighed.

Almost four years before, on October 2, 2014, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, has launched the nationwide cleanliness campaign under the name the Swachh Bharat Mission or Clean India Campaign from the Valmiki Basti in New Delhi. Addressing the nation at the launch, Modi asked India’s 1.25 billion people to join the Swachh Bharat Mission and promote it to everyone. I wonder, in these four years, if we have progressed onward at least by a hairsbreadth in this regard. Except for the change in the rate of taxes that we pay, which includes Swachh Bharat Cess, there is no other substantial change that the Swachh Bharat Missioncould claim to its credit, per se!

As you stop at the red signal on the street, there are, at all times, a few people adjoining you, who spit their slobber after their mouths. Almost all Indian roads at the traffic signals are found in many colors, owing to the spitting of Gutka, Pawn, or whatsoever it is. There is no control over such things, despite the fact so much has been schmoozed about the significance of Swachh Bharat.Swachh Bharat VidyalayaIn this background, I just remember my true life incident, which I would like to relate here. In the year 2007, I was on my way to Jaipur from Pune — by train, in sleeper class. Soon after having a cup of tea, I forayed to dispose of the waste through the window, which almost every Indian is in habit of. Straightaway, my that attempt was left off by a foreigner named Ms. Jennifer, who was also traveling to Jaipur on the same train and compartment. She asked me to put the waste in a carry bag, she held in reserve with her to dump the waste. After the whole journey was finished, she pitched it in the litterbin kept on the railway platform. This incident made me embarrassed. Yes, truly there was no dustbin kept in the bogie. Hence, it was apparent that I would have opted to chuck the discarded waste in a free-standing way. Nevertheless, that non-national (now, she is one of my best friends) has exhibited what is meant by ‘keeping one’s country unsoiled’. Truly, where there is a will, there’s a way!

Getting back to our conversation point, the notion of such a beautiful mission called the Clean India Campaign is brilliant. But it has developed into another jiffy affair, as one would have thought. Personally, I feel that such ideas should come from within and not without. Keeping the surroundings clean ensures the stability of all kinds in a given nation. If we honestly look into the concerns confronted by modern-day India, surely we can twig where do we stand, as far as the Swachh Bharat endeavors are concerned.Swatch BharatI second a thought of John F. Kennedy. According to him, one should ask only “what you can do for your country” — as if “country” were the master, and “you” and I and all of us merely servants. Most of the influential personalities of developed countries realize the importance of devotion to one’s nation. For example, the former US President Barack Obama once said that loving one’s country means accepting one’s responsibility to do his part to change it. Patriotism is nothing but the grand inherent apostle that prompts a person to serve his nation, at any given time. Of course, in this situation, I would associate the cleanliness of one’s own surroundings with one kind of nationalism.

The essence of nationalism is in fully recognizing and consciously participating in that network of affinity, paying very close attention and constantly responding to a range of issues like what everyone else is doing and saying and wanting and hoping. Out of the multiple associations emerge ideals and institutions. But those principles and institutions are valuable only insofar as they support the fulfillment of each and all. The individual is the master; the nation’s ideals and institutions exist merely to serve persons. So ideologically in any given nation, true loyalists do not serve some imagined unchallengeable unit called nation or country; rather, they serve the needs and aspirations of every person. Clean India Campaign is one such good attempt.

–      Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi