Becoming Truly “Swachh Bharat”

There’s a pretty strong yet simple reason why we’re a dirty country. We were never stopped by our parents not to litter on roads, never were we told the importance of recycling, nor were we explained the importance of segregation.

We grew up in a time when we had to bother about more trivial matters such as surviving competition, studying our backsides off and becoming able enough to move to another country of better opportunities, a cleaner country.

The ones who moved would keep complaining about how dirty India is during their short winter vacation and the ones who stayed back continued to deal with the trivial matters that we always did.

It’s only in the last couple of clean_India_imageyears that we are seeing this change. With the advent of the very ambitious ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ by Prime Minister Modi, almost everybody in the country, young or old, has at least got talking about it. We still have miles to go.

Did you know that in the first 3-5 years of school in Japan, kids are taught only about cleanliness and moral values, nothing else!!! I am pretty sure all those reading this would have seen a video of Japanese school kids cleaning floors of their school. It is not a fancy video made for social media. That’s what the kids in Japanese schools actually do each day.

Japanese schools consider cleanliness and personal hygiene as important elements in defining the personality of a child while growing up. If a growing child understands values such as keeping her surroundings clean, not littering, using things judiciously and recycling, there is almost a 100% chance that she would grow up to be a well groomed adult with a striking personality.

Cleanliness is a culture. And cultures don’t develop over months or years. Just like any religion, the seeds of cleanliness and hygiene have to be sown right at birth, at home and in school, tirelessly, to see its impact over a decade or two.

What can we as parents do? Just set an example. That’s all our kids need. If they see us cleaning up the room day after day, their minds would just program it as something that must do. If they throw a wrapper on the road, just pick it up and put it in your pocket without giving them a moral ride for the same. Trust me, they’ll stop doing it soon. Every picnic, every party, every trek must end with a clean-up ritual with an award for the kid who cleans up the best. That is a great motivator too.

Alas, I know for a fact that almost everybody reading this article is probably already educated about what needs to be done to gift a clean country to our kids. It is the lesser privileged section of the society that needs to get the message. Let’s just look at it this way – let’s prepare our kids to become mascots of cleanliness and hygiene. That is a great service to the society!

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