Start early – Swachh Bharat

The following pictures are from our condominium complex at 7 am today.



Yes, this is the result of the Diwali celebrations. I get it, that it’s in a restricted area and not across the entire condominium complex. That’s good progress from the time when the entire condominium complex would be littered. But it’s not enough.

Just as schools ran the successful campaign to reduce the purchase of crackers and have been teaching how to wash their hands, they need to take up the Swachh Bharat campaign as well and instil the value of cleanliness in our children. Today’s children expect the house will be cleaned by the maid, the school will be cleaned by the cleaning staff or “jamadaars” and over indulgent mothers keep the kid’s room clean for them. All of the above results in our streets being filthy and public places dirty. It’s “someone” else’s responsibility to pick up behind me is the message that the kid picks up.

The other big impact of this is there is no dignity of labour because we think it’s beneath us to clean public places, or toilets at home. My dad would insist on me cleaning my plate, my cupboard and later my room. My mother would try and do it sneakily, but I never let her do it because dad was my hero and I couldn’t let him down. Much later I realised, the value of that upbringing. My mother’s gift in that upbringing was the lesson in cleanliness. Her clothes, her kitchen and her house are spotlessly clean always. She and dad have cleaned the toilets at home – they never had a maid. The only maids we had were during the first ten years of their married life, because Amma didn’t know Hindi and the house in Dehu Road was prone to burglaries, plus dad’s working hours were long and sometimes unexpected hours.

Just as in sports, we need to catch them young, when their minds are impressionable. Get your children to clean up after them, don’t pick things up for them. Teach them to clean their clothes, the toilets, and their rooms. These are valuable lessons that will help them right through their life and also help them be responsible social citizens. Stop them if they litter. We were sitting at the Siem Reap airport on our way back from Cambodia and a mother son duo were sitting in the seats opposite ours. The little boy broke open a packet of “Cadbury gems” and the tiny pieces of chocolate got strewn all over. I loved the fact that the young mother told her son to get down and collect all of them, she helped but just a little to hold them as he picked them off the floor. Then she threw the whole lot into the dustbin. Great lesson for the little boy, that he cannot litter and that he needs to clean up after himself.

Catch them young, if we want to make Bharat Swachh !! Yeah, catch them young also for building a Swachh Mann :):):)

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