Why could Mahatma Gandhi not make an impact in imparting importance of cleanliness to citizens of India?

clean india

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

He did try. But, ultimately cleanliness doesn't just depend on people's attitudes. Let's assume you want to throw garbage on the bin, but you don't find a bin anywhere. Will your change in attitude change the cleanliness in that circumstance?

On the other hand, the same Indians visit the malls. Do you find the top end malls have any level of dirt?  Do the Indians throw a lot of garbage when they travel abroad? Do they keep their interior of their homes dirty? How about metro systems like the Delhi Metro?

So, how come the Indians in Delhi Metro & the malls are clean, while the same Indians outside are dirty? In the same way, the London of Dickens time was really dirty. How did England become cleaner?

It's the systems.

  1. Delhi Metro is designed to manage it better. There are designated with places for dustbins and well thoughout drainage allowing less of of rain water or external dirt.
  2. Delhi Metro & the malls have plenty of cleaning staff with the right equipment and always on the go.
  3. They spend a lot of resource to dispose off the garbage from their system quickly.

That's it. It is all about building infrastructure + resources. Instead of whining about "Indian attitudes" focus on quickly jumping up the economic ladder & use the resources to keep the environment clean. Delhi Metro didn't come cheap. Neither did the malls. They all take crores of rupees to maintain.

Cost of managing waste

High income countries [with a combined population less than India's] are projected to spend $220 billion [Rs.13 lakh crores] every year just on solid waste management.  This is almost double India's total government budget for everything from defense to education to all government service. And most of the high incomes countries don't have to worry about the brutality of high dense tropical locations [with lesser options for landfill].

[Look at how much more high income countries spend to keep things clean] Source: worldbank.org

Oh, I didn't add liquid waste management, rain water management and managing other types of dirt & industries waste all of which are part of keeping the nation clean. For instance, if we assume that a simple toilet costs Rs.50000 to build & we need every Indian get one, it costs $1 trillion dollars (Rs.60 lakh crores) to achieve that objective. The annual cost of supplying water to that toilet and having the pipes to take the sewage away can cost 100s of billions of dollars.

It takes extraordinary resources to keep a tropical nation of 1.2 billion people clean. Most people who whine about India's cleanliness have no clue of what it costs to keep a nation clean. Let's achieve the economic development with a single minded objective. Attitudes will follow.

Why could Mahatma Gandhi not make an impact in imparting importance of cleanliness to citizens of India?


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