Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Everyone must be his own scavenger

I am sure Bapu must be smiling on all of us for making a concerted effort for cleaning. Yesterday, I was made to bunk the run with cold stares from you know who! I was also feeling guilty that I was not doing my bit for the packing and shifting work. Neither of us have any great hopes from my ability in that direction, but, the fifth wheel I was yesterday. Miserable at the end of the day! Some uncertainty of how Biscuit would be transported and a late night get together with a colleague who was full of praise for me took me well beyond my usual sleep time. Had a fitful sleep. Woke up at the usual time and instead of stretching the spinning session, left for walk with Biscuit at 3 AM itself to avoid feeling sleepy again. Left for the run at 3:48 AM (I was scared wife would see the clock and catch me at it!). The run started at 4:20 AM. Stars were out in full strength to witness the Hubli Passenger show. They didn't do  much to improve visibility and I had to trust the broken white line in the middle of the road as my lifeline. An early start meant a run in total darkness and no distractions except a few vehicles seeking acknowledgement of their honks! I was contemplating on our failure to maintain cleanliness in public spaces and how Gandhiji would have gone on to lead us in the battle. The focused approach of the PM would really have brought a smile on the Mahatma's face and he would be relishing this birthday present from the nation, however, the glitz and showmanship would have been a little too gaudy for his tastes. The best part is that it is being planned as a five year sustained campaign. To my mind why we fail to maintain cleanliness in Public spaces is because we have all along been concentrating on cleaning the muck instead of giving sufficient attention on creation of the muck. It is the easy availability of manpower for these works which insulates the muck creator from his responsibility. It is in this context that the Mahatma's exhortation that 'Everyone must be his own Scavenger' makes absolute sense. The change has to start from home, washing ones own cup/plate and clothes would be a good beginning. The boys have to be taught this. Sweeping and mopping of one's room should be made a compulsory routine along with play and studies. The patriarch of the family has to walk the talk with the broom and mop to send the right message. In schools sweeping of classrooms to start with (in pairs) and toilets gradually should be made a part of school activity (Socially Useful Productive Work,SUPW, it was called in our time!). As a next step in offices, the culture of office boys/peons for washing cups/plates and wiping the table should be gradually discouraged. In any case people applying for even manual jobs are double graduates/post graduates now a days. The released manpower can easily be trained to do skilled work. Similarly in hotels the customer should be encouraged to drop the waste from the plate to the dustbin and wash the plate/cup before dropping it for proper cleaning. All these would engender a respect for manual labour and empathy with the person who cleans the muck we create. The atmosphere is ripe now and one word from our PM would have the babus outdoing each other in cleaning. Hopefully, the cleaning of the Augean stables can follow in due course! Reached the half way mark at 6:32 AM, a brisk pace for the run in darkness, maybe, the radical thoughts flowing in my mind were doing the trick. A person accosted me at the half way mark and asked a question I have not been asked before, i.e., how much I earned and if I was bigger than the DM (District Magistrate). I told him I have put in more than double the service as compared to the DM and that I get more salary than him suitably impressed him! Praveen and a village elder met me at KM 21 (village Hebsur) and enquired if I had come to pick my family. Exchanged telephone numbers and said my byes (I could still meet them in the next few days!) Reached the temple at 8:53 AM and the Sun couldn't do a thing to me (he must have cringed at my scorching pace, shades of Chennai Express on Hubli Passenger?) Dish antennae removed so no Gandhi movie today! Happy Gandhi Jayanthi folks!

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