Sunday, October 19, 2014


Much has been spoken about the richness of Indian culture, tradition, values and so on. The subject, in recent times has been more out in the open, now that a rightwing party has its wings spread wide and almost everywhere. Erosion of values, of ethos, of true Indian culture due to the malevolent influence of alien culture and faith….! The list of angst is fairly long. ( But it is much ado about nothing when one looks back to the fact that 90 percent of the present day Indians are descendants of migrants and the original inhabitants of India where aborigines or “adi dravidas”).

I wonder what is it great about the culture and tradition that we claim to uphold and bray often, beating inflated chests, with incessant eloquence and hysterically. What is it perse?

The Prime minister proclaimed from the Red Fort that he looks forward to leave behind an India that is clean- “Swach Bharat”, he said. He chose to sweep the streets on October 2, Gandhi’s birthday as an ostensible act, hoping the message percolates; that, the idea touches the chord of an India that is downright filthy. His act was obediently aped by his ministers, and bureaucrats – clad in pristine white. The custodians (sic) of Gandhi (sm) – the Kadhi clad Congress men were caught off guard! Government employees of Banks and PSUs were ordered to their offices on October 2 and ordered to swear oath and pledge on civic duties. Perhaps a shade of Soviet Union era here!

The visuals of ministers scraping about streets with brooms was replayed seemingly forever on television. Did that make any sense? Did it prompt you and me to bend our backs and knees to pick up the stray crushed cigarette pack on the street, or the empty coke plastic container left casually on the path? Did it stop the ones who throw away nonchalantly on to the kerb garbage piled from their homes? To desist from making streets and bus stations receptacle of spit and human waste? No. I think it will not. For, Indians are wanting in civic sense. Guess this must be the culture and tradition that some bray about proudly? The hyped, publicised images on televisions were for public consumption. Something we have been fed with every year on the day Gandhi was born. And only an obstinate person who refuses to be cynical would swear otherwise.

Well, one can say that the PM means business and intends good.

What is swaccha Bharat about? Is it just clean streets and building a few thousand toilets (which eventually will be veritable filthy, disgustingly dirty dumps)? From what it is made out to be, it seems so.

I guess we need to define what amounts to cleanliness.

Foremost, shouldn't we realise that cleanliness is not next to Godliness and it is and has to be a few yards before Godliness? Isn't this a country where people cried foul, offended, when a former minister suggested that we need more toilets than temples? Alas most temples in north of India are spittoons. Benares is a holy slum with filthy streets, cadavers floating down the mighty river Ganga that sustains the town. half-burnt corpse pushed into the river and half submerged they seem to float down like orphaned souls. A river that is the source and sustenance for half of the country’s population is relentlessly raped and violated by man. What have the puritan Hindus who claim sacredness for the river, call her “Mother Ganga” done all the while, the factories that spew sludge and sewage into its waters? The RSS who claims to be the bastion, guardian , caretakers of Indian culture and whatever greatness that was identified with her in the ancient, should rather use its cadre to cleanse Ganga , the slums, rivers and nook of India than unleash its frenzied volunteers to demolish ancient structures to build temples.

The wholesale give away of pristine forest lands to commercial interests? Driving away native dwellers to oblivion? Watering down a well-researched and empirical report on the Western Ghats to appease vested commercial interests? Are these acts too part of “Swach  Bharat”?

There was a report on the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. The city recycles 90 percent of the garbage it produces. It is evident from this that the technological wherewithal to sustainably dispose or recycle garbage is available. But we differ from the Swedes in the mindset and civic sensibilities to use it.

Hysterically braying about a rich cultural past and heritage is naïve and useless while we nervelessly rape our land, air and the water. It only emphsises the fact that we have done nothing to deserve a rich past and has no right to deny posterity a meaningful life.


Usha Menon said...

This is a very thought provoking and insightful post. Swachh Bharat is nothing but a slogan. All those who went to office that day were very very unhappy. Senior Officers took brooms only to be photographed. It is merely a farce.

Locomente said...

I respect the "Swach Bharath" initiative. At the same time, I feel bad. We Indians need an initiative even for cleanliness. we need persuasion, inspiration and motivation.

You know, everytime I see someone spit on road, I feel like cutting his head. When I see someone throwing something on road, I feel like killing them.

In short, We must be the change

BK Chowla, said...

It is terrible .Celebrities holding brooms,muck being shown on the roads.Can you imagine Shobha De with a broom?
Unless we ourselves learn civic sense,no amount of Photo Ops will work

Rama Ananth said...

Though all of us want to see a clean India, we may never get to see one in our lifetime, thousands of Modi cannot was off the dirt from our country.We may have advanced in education, and many other things, but we are very backward as far as our mentality towards cleanliness is concerned. The change has to come from within, one cannot teach,or force one to be clean.
In Singapore, our guide was telling they don't need a police to fine them, for the idea to be clean and keep their city clean has been drummed into them right from their birth.
It was really offending to be told by the guides not to throw papers etc. on the streets, as if as Indian tourists we were more likely to do it, if we were not warned constantly.
Maybe it is true with most Indians, for we can never learn anything from anybody , nor change by ourselves.
We can only have Ministers going on foreign tours, saying they are going their to study the roads, toilets, and infrastructures. All bullshit!

Rama Ananth said...
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KParthasarathi said...

If someone starts a Swacch Bharat movement we deride them.The sweeping by dignitaries is a symbolic act to convey the message and not meant for photo op.Clean Ganga has been started.Things cannot be changed overnight when we have been wallowing in filth.Some beginning has been made,some baby steps taken which should gather momentum if sustained follow up efforts are taken.
Sweden or Singapore cannot be compared with India.It is a huge country mostly poor,illiterate and wanting basic facilities.Let us praise and motivate the laudable steps taken instead of being skeptical.

Musings said...
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Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ Usha Menon,Locomente,BK.Chowla,Rama Annanth, Parthasarathi

Shobha De with a broom?
You must be joking Bk, Sir a wild dream perhaps?
Certainly not belittling the "Swach Bharat" slogan or the idea. But looking back till yesterday I prefer to be cynic and say that the idea might stay a slogan an empty one at that.
Indeed things cannot change overnight, but it has not changed for centuries. We have excuses, alibis and reasons for all the rubbish we do. Sweden and Singapore are not INDIA and remember Swedes are not Indians either. A race that don't care a hoot for the environment or even basic sanitation.

I wish my cynicism is proved wrong.
Why not , why cant these Babus who did not miss a photo opportunity with broom in hand volunteer to do social , community service( manual) two hours every week end?
That will be a revolution of sorts , powerful unlike the annual dance with broom in hand on October 2nd.

Tracy Terry said...

Yet another insightful and eye-opening post. It really is fascinating to see a country through the eyes of its people and not just the media who lets face it as you rightly point out all too often have their own agenda.

Ordinary Indian Woman said...

What a pitiable state we are in, where the government is stepping in to ask us to clean up! May be the PM has good intentions of cleaning India, but how much do we the people understand and follow cleanliness in questionable. As for the programme itself, I am cynical too and feel it may end up as a one day in a year affair.

Rama Ananth said...

We can claim it to be our Oktoberfest of cleanliness!
Dress code is white khadi kurta and khadi waist coat, and khadi pants with stylish long brooms. One whole day we can see crowds of people cleaning the streets, after that what?

Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ Tracy Terry,

Thanks Tracy for the comment. This country is a cauldron of contradictions and the people too.

@ Ordinary Indian Woman,

Yes I fear so.

Thanks for the visit and comment. Hope to see you regularly

@ Rama Ananth,
Oktoberfest cleanliness! I love that

Insignia said...

One can't achieve cleanliness by cleaning mess. It has to be starting with prevention of mess.

And we need an initiative, reminders and public figures to be teaching this? Isn't this the basic of lessons for us?

Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ Insignia

THis is B, yet another exercise in sham.
I was disgusted yesterday when I went to the elite Trivandrum press club for an event. I was passing towards the Chief press officers room which is also the guest room where dignitaries are received and greeted, and the room is adjacent to the lavatory. The stink of urine and all muck was so overwhelming that I wondered about the lady from the US consulate in Chennai who was one of the invitees yesterday.

I felt ashamed.
Modi or no Modi the change has to come from us.

Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ Insignia

THis is B, yet another exercise in sham.
I was disgusted yesterday when I went to the elite Trivandrum press club for an event. I was passing towards the Chief press officers room which is also the guest room where dignitaries are received and greeted, and the room is adjacent to the lavatory. The stink of urine and all muck was so overwhelming that I wondered about the lady from the US consulate in Chennai who was one of the invitees yesterday.

I felt ashamed.
Modi or no Modi the change has to come from us.

Haddock said...

I think this will happen only when it comes from within and that will happen when our kids are taught with example - both at home and school. Till then don't expect miracles.
Meanwhile what you said is true - that the PM means business and intends good.

Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ Haddock,, Yes indeed it has to come from within.

Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ Haddock,, Yes indeed it has to come from within.

rudraprayaga said...

I am always bit late to view useful posts like this.First of all let me thank the P.M for his slogan because that lit a bright lamp of this article in'Anil kumar Kuup'. Well-expressed views in alluring words.

Regarding migration I think almost all the continents and subcontinents will have millennium-old migrants(Pardon if I am wrong because history is not my cup of tea,though I love it).So millennium-old
in-habitation has made people adapt this soil's sense and essence.

With reg:to cleanliness slogan and photo-oriented exercises,only such things can hold the fingers of illiterate and ill-fed to toddle to the aim. Otherwise nothing will strike their minds to at least initiate a cleanliness step.

Then cleanliness is a step ahead of godliness and that is why cleanliness is next to Godliness.

I appreciate your style of writing about what you feel right here.

Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ rudraprayag,

I beg to differ from you in the matter of photo opportunities and the publicising of activities of public figures ostentatiously.
The manner in which these folks go about their cleansing acts with regard to Swachh Bharta and the wide coverage visual media gives them is ridden with hypocrisy, sham and banality.

Doesn't it make sense if these guys came down dressed in casual labour clothes and spent a couple of hours a week in social service?

Anything short, is to me insincere.
By The way what are we doing to avoid littering and polluting?
Why no ban on polluting factories, why not pull up municipalities that care a hoot for sanitation?

Finally thank you for the appreciation of the blog and writing.