I pledge – on Swacch Bharat Campaign

It’s the small habits that make all the difference.

I agree big plan has its place. But you know, just like all the virtuosity and dexterity on a musical instrument can’t produce mellifluous sound until it’s tuning has been done right, the grand plans sitting on poor habits are bound to fall like a stack of dominoes within no time.

I just heard a ‘good’ discussion on the new swatch campaign – will it succeed and so on. It did bring good points viz. if the initial euphoria is not sustained, and if right waste management tools are not developed soon enough it will turn out to be a sore and smelly memory – after all if millions of people start collecting waste every week which is not properly treated, one can imaging what it will lead to.

But, here lies the problem I have with ‘intellectual’ discussions. They all start looking for big solutions without answering the basic needs. The fundamental axiom it is built upon ‘if everyone starts collecting!’. We very well know we Indians aren’t habituated to do that. And that’s why the image for this post as a reminder. The Japanese were covered by the international media after they were observed to clean their share of space in a stadium post a lost match! The article I picked this image from, is by an American, which compared to what they do in a similar situation, but we are no different.

The point is cleaning social spaces is just not in our psyche! As Gurcharan Das wrote in an editorial few years back, recounting his visit to Mexico – ‘The old lady kept cleaning the neighborhood near her house including streets as soon as it became dirty with some litter even by a stranger. Upon asked she said, my neighborhood should be clean. It’s my identity. I compared this to India, where we keep our homes pristine, while throw garbage out of the window, thinking it is someone else’s job to maintain neighborhood. Problem is the whole country thinks the same’.

Japanese spectators cleaning their space after a lost world cup match

This is the fundamental shift in mentality we need. Plans can come later on. As Dilip Chhabria of DC Design said upon asked don’t you think the rise in cars on Indian roads are causing the highways to choke, “First, it’s not my job to comment on that. Second, US underwent the same in 60s. They din’t plan extra big roads from inception. When it started choking, they found a solution. You can’t jump the process for grand planning and what ifs’ ad infintum.

So let us all get into a habit of cleaning first. When it starts smelling, I am sure we will solve it. We put MoM where it belonged to after all

– I pledge for the community cleaning of atleast 2 hours a week.

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