Clean India

I rarely visit swanky buildings that house corporate offices but yesterday I needed to meet someone whose office is located in one such building. The building bears the lofty name of International Trade Tower and is located near my home. I had gone with Rani and as we alighted from the scooter, our eyes fell on a pile of rubbish. Now rubbish, dirt, filth and all the synonyms possible are the flavour of the day post our new PM's Clean India Mission. We at project why have been thinking about how to approach the issue and many debates have ensued. My take is that what is important is not to rush with a broom and 'sweep' the surroundings but look at the problem differently. It is quite useless to clean areas if one does not go to the root cause: where does the filth originate from. I have asked my staff to take this up with the students beginning with a simple exercise. Each child should be asked to make a list of the rubbish he/she sees on the way home and identify its origin. It is obvious that 99% of the garbage comes from us in the form of wrappers of all kinds and things that we simply throw without a thought. To Clean India one has to find ways of education and sensitising people into not throwing, spitting etc. How does one do that is a million dollar question. I think, like was suggested by a participant in a recent debate that one should get schools involved and work ones way up.

But let us come back to the building. After our meeting Rani and I decided to walk down the six flight of stairs as I do not like elevators and as we walked down we find these two cups of unfinished tea on two steps with of course no one in sight. Proves my point does it not? We have got used to chucking our garbage just anywhere. No one is in the habit of looking for dustbins or garbage cans.

Where does it all stem from? It is anyone guess. Is it because of the ingrained division of labour that  makes us believe that someone else will come and clean after us and makes cleaning below ones station in life unless you are born in the cleaning clan? Is it because many of us, particularly boys that have grown into men have never done an iota of house work always having mom or sis to clean up after them? Funnily the person who litters with alacrity and impunity in India will never do so in another country. Is it because laws are stringent in those lands. Maybe we should have a law like in Singapore where you are fined 1000$ the first time, 5000 the next and the third time have to wear a lovely sign, which states, “I am a litter lout”. Will the name and shame work in India? I do not know but I know that laws do not work. We have had a law banning plastic bags for years now with no avail. Seems like laws are on paper or better than that: you can always pay your way out. Even laws for your own safety like wearing a helmet are violated. Maybe we just do not like laws.

I could not end this post without talking of yesterday's gem. As Clean India is the flavour of the day everyone is cleaning but some do it with for photo ops and tone politically correct. A bunch of politicians decided to pick the broom and clean a road. However the road in question was perhaps one of the cleanest in Delhi and thus dirt had to be bought and dumped on the clean road for our well dressed politicians to pick a broom and sweep. I have nothing else to say!