We Indians are extremely respectful and hygiene conscious inside our homes. Our food habits are rather stern requiring us to wash our hands and face before having a meal, if full bath (snanam) is not possible. We also offer prayers before touching the food. As regards elders, the system of touching feet to solicit blessings of our elders is an age old practice; and these elders could be anyone and not necessarily our parents and immediate elders! We have seen our mothers and wives cleaning homes (or supervising cleaning up by maid servant) on daily basis. To sum up, respectfulness and cleanliness are deeply ingrained in our ethos.
However, once out, a sudden transformation happens to us, which is inexplicable. We spit and urinate on the walls, throw waste on the roads, become road hogs while driving, get enraged if fellow driver even lightly scrapes our vehicle, talk and WhatsApp on our mobiles while driving or walking, show all our might while boarding or deboarding city bus or local train, dig our nose and scratch our privates in public etc.
That’s why the war cry from our PM for “Swachch Bharat” or “Clean India” appeared so relevant. Our cities are crowded and chaotic, green cover reducing at a menacing pace, air pollution much above the safe levels, rivers dirty and roads seeing an influx of vehicles month on month. Mumbai is declared free from open defecation, but the ground reality is different. Look at our platforms, government hospitals, public toilets even airports (look swanky, but clearly wilting under the weight of increasing traffic)… the muck runs deep.
Let’s not talk about population explosion. Let’s also not talk about Singapore and Dubai. We cannot worry about the things beyond our control, but should do our bit of contribution to the task of making India better, cleaner and greener. On the eve of 70th Republic Day, let’s take a pledge that entire country is our home and all that we do inside our homes- our acts as well as behaviour- we shall replicate in public. Jai Hind.
On this occasion, let me quote Republic Day greetings that I have received from Marvilla, the travel company launched by my old friend that reads: