Narendra Modi won an extraordinary victory in the Lok Sabha elections in May 2014. In between his hugely popular foreign trips and customized suits, Mr. Modi also announced a few development initiatives that caught the public eye like Make in India, Village Adoption and Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (SBA). For SBA, Prime Minister himself posed with a nice looking broom to encourage people to start taking the responsibility of cleaning their neighborhood to make the whole of India clean.

We are living in an age where any idea just dies off if not marketed properly. The MBAs behind this initiative were extremely smart about adopting a time tested formula in India – celebrity endorsements and social media. The Bhai, The God, The Greek God and so many others located a moderately dirty spot in their area, made sure they looked their absolute best for the photo ops, cleaned it on an early morning and appealed to their fans to do the same. But the problem is that our youth today are not so easily deceived. They don’t follow celebrities blindly. Hence the wave did not propagate as much as expected. We do Ice Bucket Challenges because it is fun to do it and it does not take much of an effort. It is an easy way of appearing cool. Cleaning the streets? No thanks. Too much of work!

One of the other easier objectives of the program is to process the municipal solid waste. And the obstacle for achieving this is the maintenance of dustbins on our streets. In India, there is one thing we have plenty of, the population. As a result, we produce more waste and we want more bins. A very common observation is that more garbage is found all around the bin than the inside the bin. There are two main reasons for this: One, lack of time and two, lack of Basketball infrastructure in India. We should understand that the time saved by avoiding the last four steps towards the bin is approximately equal to the time and energy conserved by writing K in the place of OK. This is one thing that we cannot blame the government. But, they can again put it on the government for not supporting basketball as much as cricket in our country. We do not get any place or opportunity other than this to practice our 3-point shots. But, the bright side of this behavior is that it creates extra employment. In addition to the machines that are used to collect garbage from the bin efficiently, we would need men to manually collect it and load it into the truck.

The most effective solution to this problem of clearing up the garbage and keeping the surroundings clean is for the people to take ownership of the process. We somehow fail to understand the concept of ownership. How can we become owners of something without paying for it? A sane person would argue that the people pay taxes. But the same person will realize quickly that most of the people escape the tax with all possible methods. So, the ownership strategy falls flat on its face with a broken nose and a fractured cheek bone.

The question here is why should we keep the neighbors’ empty plots and the nearby area clean and increase its real estate value. I am sure all of us have had that one day where we became extremely socially responsible and went to clean up our street. And then, we are done. They are sure that the streets would not become dirty again after they are cleaned once. I have already spoken about the population. So it is easy to find someone else who seems more responsible than you for any given situation other than one’s wife’s or girlfriend’s pregnancy. Also, we hardly do things which are not defined as duties unless there is enough pleasure out of it like the one mentioned in the previous sentence.

If you have read the post till here, it either means you have understood what the point of this is or would still be wondering what the hell you are reading. Let me make life easier for you. Please copy the following link into you browser or just click on it (if you the smart ones) and watch the video –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf1VA5jqmRo. Pretty please!



P.S. The ‘We’s and ‘They’s interchangeably used all over indicates a struggle. There is a group of people like me who would not want to identify themselves with the crowd who are responsible for the creation of mess happening all over the country but are unable because, despite of all the attempts, they belong to the same crowd.


-Sameer Kolhapur

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