I woke up and reached for my specs. I picked up my cell phone from under my bed and checked the time 8.45 AM. After my morning routines, a cup of coffee and breakfast, I checked my whatsapp. I had a message from a friend to whom I rarely talk. It said;

I, so and so, as a responsible citizen of India commit that I will not throw/spit any garbage/waste on road/street, but try to throw only in dustbin or location provided for the same. I shall also spread this message among all my nearer n dearer ones.

I was supposed to forward the message to all my contacts. It reminded me of an incident that happened around 4 years back.

It was around 9am. Savitha and Fathima, and myself were on our way to attend a class. We were walking towards the South bus stop when Savitha decided to buy some air for breakfast. She went to the nearest store and bought the 20Rs packet of Lays.

We all finished the packet on the way and she threw it on the roadside.

“Hey! You are dirtying the surroundings.”, I keep all the bus tickets in my bag and throw them in the waste-basket at home. They were my friends. They would understand.

“It got over. So I threw it. Besides, the surroundings are already dirty.”

“That doesn’t mean we should contribute too. At least we could avoid causing our share of damage!?”

The two of them looked at each other amused. The expression clearly said that I was overreacting and being stupid.

Fathima said, “If you’re so bothered, pick it up and throw it yourself.”

“Fine!”, I picked the packet and put it in the section of my bag I had kept for keeping bus tickets.

She continued, “We are just normal human beings. We are not hi-fi like you. We didn’t go outside Kerala, get a degree from Bangalore etc. We aren’t great like you. We throw wastes on the street.”

She blabbered sarcastically while Savitha kept nodding her head. The two of them laughed and I felt hurt. I didn’t say anything. Not that I understood the link between going outside Kerala and keeping our surroundings clean. I still have no clue what their point was. But, I knew that they had decided to mock me. No amount of justification on my part would have helped.

I looked at the message again. Well, it was better late than never. Someone had finally decided to keep the surroundings clean. I logged on to my facebook account. As a part of PM’s Swach Bharat mission, suddenly my feeds and inbox were flooding with messages promising not to spit or throw garbage on the street. The very same request I had made to a couple of friends few years back.

My friends ate chocolates and was about to throw the wrappers on the street. I told them it’d be better if they threw it in a dustbin. It was just a suggestion. I wasn’t even ordering them. Had I been haughty and arrogant, their actions would have been acceptable. Well, all the wrappers ended up in my bag.

I would like to see them try to stuff all the wastes in the PM’s bag, I thought to myself, amused. I am glad that our honorable PM started this mission. I am super-glad that people are taking him seriously and working towards it. All the same, one thing kept nagging me.

Do we always need a president or a dynamic PM to put some sense into us? They say cleanliness begins at home. But for this message to sink in, one must first have some respect towards their fellow human beings. Simple messages may come from anywhere – parents, siblings, relatives, friends, teachers, neighbors, acquaintances or even a small child. But, we must have the heart to understand and accept such messages when we know it is good

I have one request to all those people who are reading this. Right now, just introspect whether you have been in such a situation. Did a well wisher, friend or acquaintance ask you to change a habit that wouldn’t cost you anything and did you ignore him/her? Even worse, did you have fun at his/her cost?

If your answer is yes to both the questions, think again. Will you accept that suggestion if the PM started a movement for its sake?

Well, don’t wait for that. Just start it yourself. With the PM’s mission’s strength, once again, here is my endeavor towards a clean India. I may not be as intelligent as you. I am not perfect. I may be younger to you. I may have wronged you. You may think I am over-reacting. I am not the Prime Minister of India. But here is what I have to say.

  • Don’t spit the chewing gum on the street. Even if you cover it with a paper, don’t throw it on the road. Throw it in a bin.
  • Watch your habits. Make a list of wastes that you throw on the streets and break the habit.
  • Keep a plastic cover inside your bag and throw the waste papers into it so that your bag doesn’t get littered.
  • Don’t write or draw in public places.Presentation1

Be civilized not just in dressing or talking. Be civilized in your actions too. Spread the message through your actions. I was discouraged many times. But I resume my endeavors with renewed vigor every time. Let us start with ourselves, our home, our neighborhood, our Kochi, our Kerala and then end up with our Swachh Bharat.🙂