an initiative of Imagindia

Come Clean India

Jago, May 28, 2011

There’s an irresistible cliché about cleanliness you might have heard of; the one about it being next to Godliness. I think this is one of the truest clichés ever produced in the history of good-hearted exaggerations. Cleanliness today is as difficult to locate as are the Gods. The day we see a truly clean India will also be the day we see all the vagabond gods making their overdue returns. Or maybe it’s only the Gods who can ensure perfect civic hygiene to this littered country of ours.

Every year millions of people die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. Over half of the hospital beds in the world are occupied by patients suffering from water- and sanitation-related diseases. Contagious diseases from human waste and lack of sanitation are easily the most harmful cause of ill health. That’s just to put into perspective what those easily overlooked stagnant waters and easily tossed half eaten sandwiches end up contributing to when you’ve easily moved on to your next wasteful activity.

Community participation is what every cause hopes for. Sadly, it’s the cause of spreading filth that sees maximum participation. But nonetheless it’s the same community that can make the difference between success and failure when a government or outside agency plans a sanitation program. When locals participate in sanitation planning, the result is more likely to benefit local needs. Dealing with this issue on a local level, one locality at a time seems to be the route that has been taken over the years –

“No garbage in my backyard”

“A garbage dump in every corner of my locality”

But that hasn’t obviously worked. Our lack of civic sense made international news in during the recently concluded Commonwealth games. So after all the years being a country of snakes and elephants we are now a tremendously rich country which just hasn’t been able to learn to keep its toilets clean. Every advancement in technology; every frontier breached in infrastructure; every leap against superstition gets tainted, in every sense of the term, by our almost compulsive mentality of sharing our waste with the world.

Only government functions and government establishments seemed untouched by the overflowing garbage from the rest of India. Even that’s not the case anymore. Independence Day celebrations, last year, took cognizance of this national embarrassment and allowed litter to be present in national broadcast. Lamenting that India scored poorly in cleanliness; Manmohan Singh stressed that children needed to be taught hygiene under a new Clean India campaign thus showing that he has almost lost hope in the current generation and wants to ensure the next generation does better.

If I were the leader of a country like India where all my efforts towards progress are marred by a lack of civic sense I’d be having dreams that my countrymen (and women) somehow magically transform into fully aware and equipped civic activists; everyone ensuring that mouths spewing spittle, hands casually tossing litter, stained walls and bare bottoms on railway tracks do not become part of our landscape. Even then my dream would end with the break of dawn but here’s a chance to realize it in some form Right now.

The ‘Come, Clean India’ Movement

‘Come, Clean India’ is a national movement to make, and keep, public spaces clean in India. The movement is generating a national will and action among all strata of Indians. Gandhian in its simple design and call for national action, the movement is scientific and entrepreneurial and extremely practical in its approach. If you are happily reaping the benefits of free market with reduced government involvement you can certainly clean up the mess you have accumulated with minimum government support too.

Currently the campaign is running in 4 cities (Delhi, Jammu, Itanagar, and Trivandrum) to tremendous response, the movement will very soon be launched across other 8-10 cities.

Now what’s the plan?

Every alternate Sunday, 60-100 volunteers get together and physical clean each of these cities. Everyone’s invited.

Now what can you do?

As a volunteer, you will be equipped. The latest in litter cleaning technology viz. long brooms and shovel will be provided. You will also be provided venues where these weapons can be put to use (so that there’s no legal action for using unseen technology in public).  

This is one of those rare chances to paint your local news with pictures of clean-up activities and get happy that you were there too. It’s the magnitude of this movement which ensures that the improvement scored here will be sustained for long.

The campaign is an initiative of the Imagindia Institute. Remember you are doing this for the image of the entire country. Happy picking.

Jaago Re has been providing  many opportunities in the past regarding the same issue

If you couldn’t make yourself available then, join now. It’s just delayed. You’re not very late.

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