Clean up now: Enjoying Responsibly

Clean up now: Enjoying Responsibly

Everybody has heard of big fat Indian weddings, a source of much celebration in India. In India no celebration is complete without dancing, singing and, most importantly, firecrackers. The dancing and singing, of course, are enjoyable. However, the firecrackers not only create noise pollution, but also create a mess. When a firecracker is burst, nobody thinks of cleaning up the mess caused after it burns out. Instead, it is commonly assumed, that with the crackers going up in flames, nothing remains. Clearly, no object can just disappear into thin air, and these scraps, like many others that are neglected, build up until they become a visible mountain of trash long after their invisible fumes merge with the surrounding atmosphere

These days we are all bombarded by messages about the Swachh Bharat campaign, which translates to Clean India in English. It is a campaign started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in order to encourage citizens to aspire for and work towards a clean India. However, not everybody knows exactly what the movement entails, nor do they know how to get involved.

For the movement to succeed, like any other mass movement or “abhiyan” as it is called in Hindi, it is vital that the people of the country are directly involved with the process. This is essential because any country is more than just geography. It is built by the citizens who are truly interested in the progress of the country. Therefore, a country can only take steps forward through the combined effort of these citizens.

The way I see it, Swachh Bharat operates on three levels. The first level includes projects on the governmental level, which are funded by the 2% cess in service tax that was introduced for that very purpose. These projects would include things such as the cleaning of roads, installation of garbage cans, etc.

The second level consists of voluntary activities carried out by different housing societies or neighbourhood organisations. This level of Swachh Bharat includes the cleaning of India by the citizens and is spurred by the lack of cleanliness in their country. This level would be manifested in several ways, such as citizens gathering together and cleaning the streets and the citizens separating their trash correctly so that it can be recycled or disposed of correctly.

The third level of Swachh Bharat is the mandatory level, in which is the government, in order for the progress of the Swachh Bharat project, mandates cleaning or the changing of policies. For example, in accordance with the clean Ganga project, tanneries in Kanpur were made to move to neighbourhoods in which the tanning process of leather would have less of an environmental impact on the Ganga River.

Despite the action of the government regarding Swachh Bharat, a government only exists for its people, therefore, it is up to the people to do their duty and help this movement for a clean India. A government can make policies and also in cases, impose fines but the real groundwork has to be done by the people. That not only requires physical work but needs a change in attitude too.

Much like in weddings, in the Hindu festival of Holi, nobody cleans up the mess that they make with the colours that they play with, simply because it is not their ‘job’ to do so. The issue with waste in India comes from the very roots of Indian culture, which have come to promote freedom without the sense of civic responsibility. In other words most Indians believe that cleaning is somebody else’s job. I don’t know whether this mentality is a relic of the caste system or whether it is down to laziness.

This is reflected in the way that people dispose trash. Many people throw trash on the street because they think they are only responsible for keeping their immediate environment clean and not their streets. In spite of the presence of dustbins, people do not care and throw trash wherever they want.

However, as a very famous Indian proverb says every drop of water counts and can fill an ocean, many small packets of trash not disposed of in a timely, proper manner can turn into a mountain of trash in no time. Therefore, I call upon the people of India to take responsibility for their actions and make sure that trash is disposed of correctly. Only a collective will and desire to change this will show us a path towards a cleaner, better India.

It is important that each and every citizen of this country is part of this initiative, because, as it is with trash, a big impact is only caused by a multitude of smaller impacts. It is time to take responsibility for our actions and look at the big picture in terms of trash. It may take less effort to throw a small piece of trash onto the street than to wait and dispose of it correctly, but this effort is vital in the endeavor of making Swachh Bharat a reality.

About the Writer
My name is Aman Bajaj, I am a 16 year old, 10th grade student at the American School of Bombay.  I believe that the Swachh Bharat initiative is a much-needed step taken in the right direction. In our school we had to pick up a project on social change, which could affect the lives of Mumbaikars in particular. I chose to focus on the problem of waste and trash management in my neighbourhood. With regards to the same I did some research and thought of some solutions, hence wrote three articles, one of out of them has been sent to you. On the other hand, I have taken some steps to create awareness about the importance of clean surrounding in my building, such as sending around letters and posting leaflets on the walls. Moreover, along with a friend of mine, I am working on a design for a smart trash, which, once finished can be used by BMC. 

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