Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cleanliness Anyone?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

How we will manage to keep a billion plus folks in line with keeping a clean home and clean environment is a task for the heavens. The initiative of clean India which is being pushed hard by the prime minister is being well publicized in the Indian and also the international media. Starting with the PMO and with the PM himself taking lead and at the same time calling out to some of India's well liked celebrities of various fields, the PMO has been taking the publicity route to the masses for clean India campaign. From Gandhi to Modi, from before India's independence in 1947 to prime minister Modi in 2014, a lot of time has elapsed and a lot more Indians have been added to Indian population, lot of leaders, lot of changes to the living style and standards, and in general life it self keeps changing while Indians did not adopt to being clean, which could have enhanced the country's overall health and hygiene.

Driving the nation to adopt to a clean society is by no way a simple task for one leader. The entire nation is used to spitting and peeing and simply throwing stuff everywhere they live and use. Irrespective of where people live and go to and irrespective of their social stature, Indians love to pile up garbage and throw stuff around.

We are also a society that hoards every little thing that we get our hands on and also save every scrap. From paper, clothes, bags, shoes, utensils and any other household items we save and keep them under lock and key. Indians inherently have a wonderful culture of saving, and this transcends to saving trash.

For many generations we have continued to follow the same routine with hygiene and savings and we lead our children to follow the same way of life. So, even if our leaders ask us to keep things clean, specially our surroundings clean it will be a humongous task for us to follow as a complete society.

For our current PM who is from Gujarat, he must be used to his fellow state's men chewing tobacco and spitting everywhere. With our huge population and minimal sanitation facilities and in general our lack of respect for our own surroundings, along with everything else that the nation has to deal with is a huge task before the country become a clean and habitable India.

The initiatives being suggested in respect to sanitation in India is a major step in making the nature's call a private session, which is imperative to get the Indians first to do what is supposed to be done in private to be done in private and also stop messing up the country. While building toilets and restrooms is clearly a feasible enterprise, the nation and its leaders and planners should also how to dispose off the sewage. Indian doesn't have sewage collection, management and processing capabilities to deal with sewage and waste. Even the major cities have problem with collection and disposal of waste. India needs to get a system planned and implemented not just build sanitation facilities but also waste management. At this time for those who live in villages, smaller towns and municipalities, there is no such plan for waste management and there are no sewer or water pipelines that support a waste management and disposal system. Along with building toilets, the country also needs to work in tandem in massive restructuring of the infrastructure of cities, towns and villages, where by building the infrastructure to handle the waste, and manage the waste management to not further suffocate the population. Also, the so called smart cities that are being pushed by the current Pm, should be planned and developed in keeping in mind the waste and sewer management as a part of the overall planning of the new development.

The country has to get started somewhere and somehow to get India clean. There are no alternatives but to make India clean to keep the nation healthy. The clean India task is enormous considering where we are now. The country, its population and its leaders; all should start with a clean slate and start the process now for a sustainable environment and clean India.

From the initial looks of it, and the processes and promotions on Clean India, reception to the PM and the subsequent initiatives has been very positive. A number of well regarded celebrities taking to the streets with gloves and brooms to show support to the clean India program has been well received by the general public, who also wants to pitch in. Modi himself keeps his channels of communications open, and keeps the cleanliness drive as a top priority for him and his government. His direct communications constantly update on who is doing what on the cleanliness drive, and also he continues to encourage more and more participation.

As we look at the clean India drive with irony, it has been long overdue. The PM needs to be applauded for pushing the cleanliness drive as a personal and national political issue. Going back to Mahatma's India prior to 1947 and Modi lead India in 2014, it is of great importance for the nation to be clean and continue to remain conscious of the importance of cleanliness. Here a big tip of the hat to Modi, Indians and a happy and clean India. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Measuring Success

Vasu Reddy

For more than a billion plus people it is very difficult to measure the success or in fact failure of any program. There is so many of us with a multitude of different requirements, any plan that is put out to the public will have its fair share of yes and no from everyone. The politics of India are also similar to any other large democracy, where everyone in opposition will question the ruling party irrespective of its decisions, and the public will have the usual multitude of opinions on every issue. The reach of the government initiatives are typically enjoyed by a select group that is targeted by the benefits of the specific program, and the context of each such program can be decried by others who are not entitled to the benefits of the specific program, thereby allowing the critics to pound on the vote bank politics that are typically raised, and that typically ignore the importance of each government initiative to help the needy sections of the population.

India's politics are not much different from other large democracies, and perhaps the few differences might be their leaning to a particular political party to get elected, and also their backgrounds. This space will never be enough for speaking of politicians backgrounds, and the writer doesn’t have the expertise to explore the politicians backgrounds.

The measure of success of the government to respond to the citizens needs and also respond to the unplanned and unexpected events that occur during the government's time in office; will clearly place each successive government in position to get reelected. The definitive style of leadership and the public review of one individual that leads the country is also a measure to get reelected. As long as the politicians continue to meet the public's demands and project themselves as working in public interest, they get back into the office. India doesn’t have term limits and we have politicians for life, and many of our prime ministers passed away in the office. Each of them leaving a legacy of work that gets debated constantly by the current crop of politicians and also the media. As each of them were bestowed the highest elected office of India, they are all leaders of exceptional abilities and intelligence. Just being the prime minister of India at any time and for any duration will require not just leadership, but also the ability to at least convince a majority of the country's elected politicians and electorate that the individual is in fact has the wherewithal to lead our diverse nation on one path.

Our new government is only into to its second quarter in power and the theories of their accomplishments are already being floated by the countrymen and also leaders of opposition. It is in fact very difficult to measure the accomplishments of a government in three or four months, rather the direction the in place government is taking that will need attention. For starters Modi himself continues to follow the same regime that he canvassed prior to getting elected, and continues to drive his team of ministers and staff to work longer and smarter. Always a good sign when the leader is working long and hard to demonstrate that he is serious about moving things along. His team of ministers seem to follow the same path as he is in pushing things along. When the ministers are pushing hard to move things along, it is going to be difficult for the bureaucrats to not follow. The top down flow of work habits will also be reflected across the government and for starters the country seem to appreciate the work habits of the leader and his push to have everyone follow him. The initiatives are way too many and way too diverse to measure in matter of months, but many of them seem popular and well received, and their success will only be measured in successive quarters to come. The countrymen embracing the suggested changes and programs will also help in moving the country forward. We have a leader who is hard working and hard charging and the results are expected to be positive.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Clean India?

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

Mahatma Gandhi is often quoted as the person who practiced cleanliness along with his simple life style. Often our Indians and especially politicians use the word Gandhi and then associate cleanliness to his name and pitch it to point to us Indians on being clean. Modi and his initiatives on clean India are being well publicized and also being well orchestrated by the politicians and media alike to bring the being clean as an important and also a viable life alternative for Indians. It is one of the wonderful initiatives for the world, not just for India to be clean, and the constant coverage helps to bring the people to look at what they do and also think about being clean.

It is not just India but the whole world needs to appreciate the meaning of cleanliness, and attempt to do their best to keep themselves and their surroundings clean. Going back to India and Indians, the age old issues persists with our living standards, and it will take quite some effort to make India clean, but it is not impossible.

Modi must have a great deal of experience with his fellow men from his own state, where chewing tobacco and spitting is as common as drinking water. We have great examples of our fellow countrymen in the USA, and wherever they congregate or shop, the red spit is obvious. It is perhaps a wonderful initiative for Modi to ask his fellow men to start being kind to the surroundings, and stop spitting on the streets and walls, where the guys shop and spit.

There are huge life style changes that will be required of Indians to be respectful to the nature and their surroundings. It is not just sanitation, and trash and spitting, but also life style changes are required to self discipline in making themselves and their surroundings habitable and clean. Everywhere in India, bit cities or small towns, villages or any habitable space that is available becomes fair game for abuse. We should start by looking at these spaces with a clean eye, and making all public places free of trash and crap. All this is not impossible, but will require a conscious and continued effort on the part of all Indians to have self respect and also respect for their fellow citizens and their environment. If that is instilled into all people, then the clean India movement will start to become real.

Perhaps the most ambitious initiative of the government of making Ganga clean is not just an expensive mega billion effort, but making the 300 or 400 million people who live along the river, and along with a billion or so who think its holiness will lead them to heaven by immersing ashes in the holy river or various religious and cultural activities associated with the river, while other wash, clean and do whatever people do out in the open to the river. The river continues to survive the massive abuse by everyone any everything all along its journey and only god knows how much abuse by the humans if inflicted on the river, and the population keeps growing every year along with the abuse. It still survives and is still majestic. Now the initiatives to make Ganga clean, is not just throwing money into dredging the river or building parks and recreation facilities on the banks of the river, it is to respect the river and its serenity and beauty, along with the value of its cleanliness, as one would respect ones own mother. Modi and his team need to start instilling the value of the respect the river deserves, and not just throw money into it. It certainly needs a huge investment, but it also requires an investment in effort by everyone around the river to change their life style in respect of the river. If we do that and stop dumping everything into the river, and make the investment to clean it and beautify the Ganga, it will be glorious for ever.

The absolute cost of clean nation is really impossible to estimate. Building sanitation facilities might be simple, but what about the sewage pipes, water pipes, treatment and management facilities, collection of garbage and dump yards; all this and many more along with where to and how to build these facilities in mostly unplanned nation without much city planning? The challenges are enormous, but the nation is also enormous and one step at a time, and one initiative at a time can make it happen. If people start seeing that being clean is really more attractive, any amount of investment and any mount of effort will begin now, and will yield immediate results.

It is a great initiative and Modi is pushing it hard to get Indians to start practicing clean. It will only be possible if all of India's citizens are willing to be respectful to their nation, surroundings and to themselves. Here is wishing Clean India. Jai Hind.


Cleanliness is next to godliness” actually comes from the writings of Phineas ben Yair, a rabbi whose writings can be found in the Talmud written this way:
The doctrines of religion are resolved into carefulness; carefulness into vigorousness; vigorousness into abstemiousness into cleanliness; cleanliness into godliness.” As you can see, in the quote, cleanliness’ is literally next to ‘godliness.‘ Yes, as simple as that!

Pulse of the People

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