A flurry of initiatives have been unveiled by the Govt of India since it won a decisive mandate (first since the 90’s for India) last year. While political spokespersons will jostle to credit/discredit these schemes whether they are “freshly brewed” or “repackaged vintage” (my words not theirs), some of these schemes require some serious soul searching on the part of the general population.
So let’s get straight to the point, last year the Govt. of India launched the “Swachh Bharat”, “Beti Bachao” and “Give It Up” schemes among many others (thankfully none of these are named after an actual person). And the message did not come from the individual ministry under who’s jurisdiction the scheme would be run, it came right from the top – The Prime Minister of India. Previously such schemes would have a “bureaucrat drafted” statement, a photo of the Prime Minister and the President on a full page newspaper spread and that would be the end of it.
But cleanliness and sanitation (especially for girls) featured left and center during the PM’s Independence Day address to the nation and that gave it the initial escape velocity that it deserves. Soon everyone was on the bandwagon, from local bodies to 15 minute fame seekers to film, television and sports personalities to large corporate houses and news channels, this instilled hope and the year was 2014.
Snap back to the present and there are some reports that the “Swachh Bharat” scheme has lost its momentum. This if true is truly sad, not for the Govt. but for its citizens, this should also serve as a reminder to all – success of any governance initiatives is only as good as the grass root participation it garners. We claim that more Indians are getting educated, are more aware, more connected and needless to say getting wealthier. But somehow this modern day materialistic evolution doesn’t seem to translate into “situational social awareness and wisdom”, I mean the simple question one needs to ask themselves is “Do we need our Govt. to tell us to keep our surroundings and by that country clean”. And it isn’t that big of an undertaking, it is actually quite simple – treat ones locality, city, state and country as you would treat your own house.
Personally, the attitude that makes one litter is driven by indifference and a general lack of social responsibility. It stems from the thought that “someone is getting paid to clean up my mess, so I’m gonna make a mess”.
That brings us to the next issue that was highlighted during this years speech, the complete absence of dignity of labour. This is a status agnostic issue. General tendency is to look down upon janitorial jobs, then there’s the other kind that won’t take creative vocations seriously (I can recollect a tweet where a writer/blogger was faced with the “writing is fine, but what do you do”).
So in the words of Aretha Franklin
Then comes the request to “Give It Up” and we aren’t talking income details to the taxman, but the LPG subsidy. The number of citizens who have surrendered their subsidy is encouraging BUT it could have been significantly higher. Somewhere the ones who can really do without the subsidy think “it’s not going to reach those who need it so why bother” and a prolonged culture of middlemen driven corruption drives this mindset. And it’s justified to quote the Gita “do your part without expectation of result, outcome or gain”. To the eternally optimistic me, just the satisfaction of the surrender should be good enough and surely the Govt can release evidence as to how these noble citizens have helped another one of theirs.
At the end of it, Govt succeeds by the participation and involvement the citizens show in its initiatives. Great ideas have failed for the want of great implantation, and the implementation matters.
To sum up, great abhiyaans require the right attitude from the citizenry.
Time to play our part, over to YOU the citizen.
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