If you can’t keep your surroundings clean, you don’t love yourself.

FREE FROM TRASH

Recently a famous Basketball player visited India and commented that how the Real India was very different from the India of his imagination. How there were cows and monkeys on the road, dirt lying around and the general apathy we have towards even heritage monuments like Taj Mahal. I was really upset. And so were a lot of Indians. And he tweeted an apology the very next day. The first thought that came to my mind was ‘How dare he say something like this about my country?” But if you don’t just react and sit back and think don’t you see some truth in his words? You don’t agree??

Ok fine he is an outsider why accept his words. Let me give you another example. During summer vacations my friend visited her brother in USA along with her two school going children. After a wonderful stay of two and a half months they came back to India. Their father went to the airport to pick them up. On the way back the elder son pointed out that how dirty the Mumbai streets are, how much dirt and filth is accumulated all around. His parents were amazed at how easily the child who had stayed all his life in India got sensitized to the dirtiness in just two and a half months. Have I made my point? Now how can you not accept the words of a 12 year old?

India completed 70 years of Independence on 15th August 2017. For me among other things, one major form of freedom would be the freedom from filth, dirt, waste, rubbish, garbage, trash or whatever you choose to call it from our streets and cities which has become so much a way of life for us that we seem to accept it as part of the landscape.

Next question would be ‘Whose responsibility is it?’ The general answer would be the municipality is not doing their jobs properly, what can we do? The system is not right here… etc. etc. I agree this is their job and they are trying to do it. I have seen the municipal employees working in inhuman conditions while collecting garbage. But the quantum is so huge that they can’t keep up.

I have another question. Who is increasing their job? For this let me give you a little background. We Indians love cleanliness a lot, our houses are kept spick and span. We don’t pray without taking a bath and in some household don’t even enter the kitchen without taking a bath. But this love of cleanliness is limited only to our house or compound. The moment we step outside it becomes none of our concern. I have seen people stepping out of a Mercedes car and carrying a Gucci bag and throwing the cold drink can nonchalantly on to the street. People not segregating the garbage before throwing it and expecting the sanitation workers to go through the muck and segregate it. Garbage getting accumulated around the garbage bins because someone is not bothered to go all the way to the bin and generally toss the garbage in that direction and move on. These are only a few examples but I hope you get the picture.

So the onus to keep our city clean lies with us. We as people need to learn to show a little more empathy rather than apathy towards our public property. Have a feeling of belonging towards your surrounding and don’t do anything deliberately to make it dirty. And most important raise the children is such a way that littering is not a way of life for them. My children carry empty packs of chips or wrappers in their bags or even pockets but never throw it outside. They have become so used to this that they stop even their friends from throwing trash out of the school bus and carry their trash back home to throw in the dustbin.

Keep our city clean. This is not just an official slogan it’s our duty. Remember way back when were kids we read in our civics textbooks that “Rights and Duties are two wheels on which the chariot of life and society moves forward.” If we take our rights so seriously we should be taking our duties also seriously.

When you stand on the road and look around and can’t see or smell garbage. Then according to me we are on path to true freedom.

THE NEST

                                                   

Sipping tea in my balcony, I saw some straws,

Wondered if the wind blew too strongly and made this jigsaw…

Then I noticed the culprit who created this mess –

It was a pigeon trying to make a nest.

 

I hushed that creeper instantly,

because when it comes to cleanliness, I get too finicky.

I swept away the straws and hay,

But the pigeon just won’t agree to my dismay,

For I had to clean up the twigs everyday.

 

One, two, three and four,

Fifth day I saw much more.

The pigeon wasn’t alone,

The male one with twigs in beak has just flown,

The female stopped designing her nest,

Fearing that I would protest.

 

Touched I was to see their determination,

So assisted them to make their mansion,

With cardboard and some bricks,

Little creatures taught me the mantra in a nick-

Don’t give up and never lose hope,

Keep on trying, there’s always a scope.

ARE THE POLICIES LEAVING AN IMPACT?

Hi Everyone,

How are you doing?  Are you enjoying the winters or despising it?  Well, I had my share of cursing the weather when I was in Brussels.  It was grey and gloomy back there and worse thing is we have it for a greater part of the year😟.  Now I am in Delhi, enjoying “dilli ki sardi”.  India has always been colorful and winters have a different charm.  Aroma of delicacies traveling all the way from kitchen when you are in a place just next to heaven i.e. under your quilt, pure ecstasy !  And hot lip smacking street food has always been Delhi’s speciality.  Golden rays of sun filtering through the green leaves wishing you in the front yard of the house (Okay, make it balconies as yards are not seen everywhere in cities) along with the ever inquisitive and more than friends neighbours is a fun of different zone ( at least for me who see neighbours rarely at my place:) ) And dullness is not in Delhi’s air.  Always hustling and bustling.  So, coming to Delhi has always been an awaited event on my calendar.  More because I am a Delhite having spent nearly 24 years here.   And this trip is more special because it’s my brother’s marriage!  All shackles break loose for shopping as sister of groom.  Can you see me dancing?

And my shopping spree started on Saturday itself :).  It was during this shopping session I came across two distinct incidents that made me think “Are the policies leaving an impact?”

  • Incident 1:  A woman was trying to dispose of some litter in front of a shop suddenly encountered by a voice.  Along with her I turned my head to that combat “Mam can’t you see the dustbin right in front of you?  Would you do the same at your home too?”  She was embarrassed and I was surprised.  That incident made me think is this the impact of “Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan”or simply the instinct of that shop owner who cared to keep the vicinity of his shop clean?
  • Incident 2:  I went to a shop to buy some stuff for my kids.  After the items to be purchased were finalized of course with minimal discount (any amount of discount is welcome) I asked for the bill. To this the owner said “if you want the proper bill and not a rough one then you have to shell hundred more on your bill amount and explained some sales TAX concept.  It certainly raised my eyebrow.  I was quick enough to respond him “Aren’t we supposed to pay our taxes?  Isn’t it for our benefit in the long run?”  To this he quickly took out his billing book and prepared the final bill and said “It’s not like that we don’t keep our accounts regular but we wanted you to save some bucks”.   Shall I take his words at face value?  Let it be, I said to myself.  Paying out few more bucks won’t make me a pauper but trying to save that petty cash would surely dent the country’s prosperity.  No record for sale means no sale at all, I mean no income for that shop owner and no income means no tax.  Whatever amount we have paid for the purchase directly adds to the black money (unaccounted) and  lack of revenue at the government’s disposal would in turn burn a hole in our pockets in the form of higher taxes and prices.  Food for thought isn’t it?

Any policy from any government of any country would only be successful if it is ably supported by the people (talking about the democratic set up) Period!  But in both the situations mentioned above: accepted or denial; positive or negative – Impact is surely felt.  And my country is definitely moving, hopefully marching towards betterment.

MEDIA- IT MAKES IT HAPPEN

Hi Everyone,

We all have been watching movies/ advertisements since childhood.  Not only that, many bits from this virtual world of media have etched a deeper place in our hearts and minds.  A memory saved, a habit acquired, a style followed, imitation or emulation or simply given a thought about something that has been seen, it could be anything but not ineffective.  Isn’t it true?

Since we are talking about community cleanliness I want to talk about how media both print and electronic could influence/ rather influencing the efforts in this direction.

Media be it any form-print or electronic impacts our lives in one or other way.  I am not talking any rocket science.  But how could media act as a catalyst in instigating a change, be it a thought or a process.  It is simple.  It is the reach media have that makes it an important player when change of any kind is concerned.  A word of mouth might be taken lightly and forgotten but when same message goes across via print media it carries more significance that makes it noteworthy.  And electronic media takes the appeal a notch higher because visual appeal that a motion picture gives always registers better than a plain word on paper.  Moreover, it has nothing to do with the audience being literate or not and that’s the USP which enables the message to be spread more widely and effectively.

Now that we understood the role of media in spreading a word or rather a message let us see how this has been useful in our Government’s effort to keep our county clean.  For our readers outside India I would like to mention that our government has started a new mission to make and keep India clean and safe (read sans diseases) which is called “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” the literal translation for which means “Clean India Mission”.  And the handlers of the mission who have very well understood the impact of  message on various channels of media are using different avenues to the maximum possible levels.  I would like to list a few advertisements that I have seen which could  go or might have gone far in bringing about a change:

  • School kids spreading the message of washing hands properly, drinking pure water from purifiers and defecating in toilets only.  This message highlights the importance of hygiene.
  • A famous actress (Mrs. Vidya Balan, brand ambassador of sanitation campaign) reiterating the importance of having proper toilets at home
  • Another famous actor (Mr. Aamir Khan), spreading across the message of keeping our surroundings clean that would eventually help us to have a cleaner country.
  • In almost every leading newspaper, in every language the methods to keep the dangerous diseases (read spread by mosquitoes and unhygienic ways) at bay a column is dedicated.  And that too on a repeated constant basis.

These are just few examples on how media is being used for the betterment of country by inculcating hygienic habits in the citizens.  What I liked most in this campaign is that the target audience, which is the entire country has been cleverly segregated and targeted.  For instance, I was talking about an advertisement featuring kids.  The impacted audience includes children for whom it is very important to learn about cleanliness at a young age.   And the point has been intelligently put across.  Similarly, for youngsters and adults if a person whom they idolize and respect tries to say something or put forth a point, that would be taken easily and acted upon too.

Any mission or policy in order to be a success needs support from the core and the core here is none other than the “public”.  No plan can become an implementation and no implementation can be a success until and unless public involvement is guaranteed.  And only awareness can draw its interest.  And media in this regard has left no stone unturned to blow the horn of this initiative.  Right from the day of this mission’s inception media is covering every aspect and every person (read celebrities from every field) associated.  It would be noteworthy to know that just as the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that became viral “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” Challenge became viral.  And it was media which spread the word and awareness and drew more and more people – both celebrities and commoners and culminated efforts for better results.

And the results are yielding.  Many backward villages are now trending  in the way of cleanliness and trying to achieve the tag of “ODF” which stands for Open Defecation Free.  This is just one aspect.  The overall impact is surely positive and definitely counting.   To conclude this I just want to say that media is doing its part in bringing about a change. Let’s do our bit and see a “Swachh Bharat” soon.

We watched few videos mentioned in yesterday’s snippet, “Cleanliness at a glance.” For all other advertisements under Swachh Bharat campaign you can always surf on YouTube.

CLEANLINESS AT A GLANCE

Let’s watch few videos that have been made by some brilliant minds to create awareness. 

 

 

 

 

 

EVEN THE DUSTBIN SAYS, “USE ME!”

The say “Prevention is always better than cure”, which means that to be prudent and cautious, is always better than damage control. We all think about our homes and our personal environment when it comes to the matter of cleanliness. We sweep and broom our homes and throw the dust outside on the road, feeling relieved that we have done our duty towards hygiene and cleanliness, but what about the duty we have towards community? 

img_4440Sitting in our homes, as our kids eat chips or biscuits, we tell them to throw the wrapper in dustbin, we tell not to stick chewing gum to furniture, we tell them not to let any broken glass come in our way, under our feet. But when it comes to the lane we live in, no one cares. No one cares while emptying their dustbins in the lane, no one cares about throwing broken glass outside, no one cares if our kids stick their chewing gum to park benches. Why? Because we don’t consider it our Home or our personal environment, we get so narrow minded that we can’t think outside the premises of the four walls we live in. 

We have all accepted Kejriwal with open hearts when he made something like a Jhaadu as his party symbol, admiring him for his love for cleanliness, we have supported PM Narendra Modi, in his quest to clean India, his Swachh Bharat Abhyan has inspired us all to clean India, but has any of you thought, that before cleaning, we need to stop dirtying? Change begins at Home and everyone’s efforts counts, so when it comes to keeping your society clean, don’t think why me? Or what difference will my efforts make? Teach yourself and your kids to use dustbins when in parks or playgrounds, don’t dispose plastic wrappers in water bodies and pollute them, never allow or encourage anyone to pee against a wall or a corner, don’t just eat popcorn or peanuts and discard the crushed packet on the roadside, pocket that banana peel you are so tempted to chuck on curb and throw it when you see a garbage can. img_4439Even the dustbin says, “USE ME!” What you give community, community gives you back, that water will ultimately come to your taps, those parks are where your kids play, that is the bench on which your parents sit after morning rounds that might be the corner where you hang out with your friends and wife might be the one to slip on that peel. 

And yes, I know many of you are thinking I do just that, so one last question for you all, do you do it when you are being watched or when someone is around, or do you follow this even when you are alone and no one is around to judge you? Please, don’t do it to save your image or to avoid judgement, do it for your community. You might change your home, you might change your city or even your country, but wherever you are, you are part of a community, make it proud, and feel proud to be a part of it.