Swachh Bharat Abhiyan makes sense after all “Cleanliness in next to Godliness.” It sounds so squeaky clean statement in rhetoric; easy to deliver.
But away from all the luxury and glamour of the palatial houses, metal streets and tree-lined promenades, there is a larger world in every town and city where people live in abject poverty and deprivation. The notions of welfare state fail to reach there. Godliness has meaning in prayers halls only. It is not followed in deeds of cleanliness. The tragedy was exposed in the film Slumdog Millionaire. It was released in 2008, directed by Danny Boyle. The film was critically acclaimed the world over and named in the top ten lists of various media sources.
I’m not writing these lines to proselytize or as a pedantic exercise. Conventional wisdom says that poverty is not a choice. A poor remains poor because of low income and the certain lifestyle he adopts is not his wont. His behavioral traits like lack of cleanliness, limited self-control, idling away the time are not within his control. We forget that behavioral psychology determines the behavior of the poor.
According to Charles Karelis, the Research Professor of Philosophy at The George Washington University – “When we’re poor our economic worldview is shaped by deprivation. The conditions of poverty exact a heavy toll on cognitive resources through the everyday challenges of scarcity. The repeated trade-offs confronts the poor in daily decision making. The rich can afford both a bit more food and a bit more fertilizer, no decision is necessary.”
Poverty produces ‘Lack of control over Life.’ And when we find helplessness to control our life, we become the victim of clinical depression and related mental illnesses. Insensitivity to dirt and squalor is one of them. We don’t see it. We don’t need a clean veranda.
I appreciate the efforts PM Narendra Modi is making to inculcate the sense of Hygiene and Sanitation in masses. He is addressing both the luxury car owners – the parvenus, the millionaire and billionaires who spit the PAN PEEK at the marble columns of Connaught Place or in the flowerpots kept in the lawns of national monuments, and PM is addressing the poor destitute defecating alfresco. His intentions are great. However, I wonder, what comes first? Cart or the horse? The rich man is too arrogant and poor is too ignorant. Who is going to listen to Mr. Modi in this long country marathon.
BJP understands this dilemma well. Majority of Indian Muslims live below all the lines of one can conceive. BJP thought it well to make a day with Muslims. However, the thinking process remained half-baked. Since the fall of Moghul empire, there is hardly any great Islamic Structure that has been built by Muslims with the exception of AMU Aligarh.’The India Islamic Centre’ at Lodhi Road is an anomaly. I think that most of the poor Muslims of Delhi are unaware of its existence. It is ridden, like most of the Muslims Institutions, with internecine political fights of domination. Delhi BJP didn’t do its home work.
It didn’t check its background. Any of the ‘Jamuna Par’ colonies where Muslims live the depraved existence could have given a safe and sound opportunity to show the seriousness of ‘Swacch Bharat Campaign.’ Lutyen’s Delhi is one of the cleanest places in India. You have to make it dirty first with all pious intentions to make it clean. And here the BJP chief of Delhi had been caught on the wrong foot.
Today, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is facing a big embarrassment following revelations that the Sunday evening Clean Up India event was a farce. The Clean Up India campaign was organised near the India Islamic Center in New Delhi where the organisers actually dumped a lot of garbage on a clean road which was later cleaned up once again by Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay and former AAP leader Shazia Ilmi. As the election in Delhi is approaching, this faux pas is going to cause the party dearly.
It was a show devoid of intelligence.
By: Naim Naqvi