One of the most important issues taken by our Honourable Prime Minister and something very close to my Heart is the Swachh Bharat Campaign. To me this is a quantum leap in our thinking about an issue that needs absolute and urgent focus on.
The issue that delights many of us is that this campaign has been taken with the greatest vigour in spite of it not having any impact on the vote banks and purely done to make our country proud.
Our greatest shame has been the filth that we are surrounded by, be it garbage, open sewage, open defecation, spitting or open toilets. Not only is this an eyesore, it is a serious health hazard and a black mark on our country, as far as the tourism industry is concerned.
The impact of the health hazards of the unhygienic conditions we live in has certainly not received the attention it deserves. Most of our infectious or communicable diseases like gastroenteritis, cholera, jaundice, mosquito borne illnesses can be traced to this. Chronic malnutrition especially in the lower socio economic group can be traced to chronic diarrhoeal diseases. In fact it would not be an exaggeration to say that a hygienic clean environment, safe drinking water and food could save the lives of more children than all our hospitals put together at a fraction of the cost.
Though the Honourable Prime Minister has taken this initiative and is pushing it hard, it will not and cannot happen unless we the citizens of our country take this up seriously and do our bit to make it a Swachh Bharat.
Unfortunately, even though we are a caring nation our civic sense leaves much to be desired. We are selfish in some ways where in we keep our house spic and span but do not have any qualms about throwing filth in public spaces. Unless we change this attitude beginning at home, continued at schools and work places this will not happen. Massive educational campaigns, with active participation of the media and corporate sector, is an absolute must.
Wherever there is a carrot we also need a stick and some form of serious punitive fines; for public littering is urgently needed and more importantly has to be vigorously implemented.
Let us take the pledge of Swachh Bharat today and make our great country a cleaner and beautiful place.
Dr. H. Sudarshan Ballal MD, FRCP (UK)
Board Certified in Int Medicine, Nephrology & Critical Care (USA)
Medical Director & Chairman – Medical Advisory Board,
Director – Manipal Institute of Nephrology & Urology