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!

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