The highly laudable Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan was launched on October 2, 2014 with a call to the nation’s countrymen (and women as well as children) for coming together wholeheartedly in the operation clean India project as a national mission. The response of the people all over the country, including Mysuru (with its residents dubbed as a laid-back fraternity) was electrifying. The world may not have taken notice of the unprecedented event but it did bring the masses on their toes wielding the broom with disdain as it were. The fever of sweeping the dust and residue followed by moving the unwanted stuff to God-knows-where and the fervour exhibited, maybe to attract the shutter bugs and experience the delight of seeing the images of themselves printed in the dailies, has come down even as the habit of littering everywhere refuses to die. In the meanwhile, two other issues namely (a) Saying goodbye to open defecation and (b) Construction of toilets both in urban spaces and rural areas were generously discussed all over the land ending in claims of constructing toilets in amazing numbers.
Keeping the living spaces as well as the workplace spic and span, particularly homes in both urban and rural areas and their surroundings is not an entirely new agenda in the land. The fact that our ancestors stuck to the agenda of sanitation in their daily life cannot be disputed. Having adopted the mission mode of cleaning every square centimetre of the land’s geographical land area and every millilitre of its water bodies, particularly rivers, one is prompted to move on to a more important mission of cleansing the nation of all its ugly features.
A samhita mantra, starting with the words Swasthiprajaabhyaha paripaalayantaam, nyaayena margena…, sourced from the Taithiriya Upanishad, reveals the outlook of the land’s people in ancient times, namely “Let the citizens of the country be healthy and the rulers be just.” These lines are cited even to this day during discourses (Pravachana) delivered by the scholarly fraternity before their captive audiences, mostly senior citizens and womenfolk, who can be heard bemoaning the current scenario of hardship of ill-health bugging the people and the none-too-flattering public image of the country’s ruling class. Saying more on these features in this column is like carrying coal to New Castle as it were.
Although the dailies of various languages are replete with worrisome happening across the country, particularly victimising unguarded women and children, hurting their safety, people at large seem to be satisfied with expressing their disenchantment with no semblance of pro-actively organising themselves in cleansing the land of its ugly image, except in some pockets. Action for cleansing requires to be launched as a mission for the masses.