Clean India Other Aspects
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Clean India other aspects

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See interview of Ashok  Kothare

From Nita Ambanit to Amir Khan all so-called celebrities are these days wielding jhadoo as never before. Jhadoo has now become a symbol of socially elite people. Purity and pollution are two principle features in India's caste system. In this age-old caste system higher you go cleaner, you are considered. Moreover, as you see lower in the hierarchy they are considered as more impure and unclean. According to census of 2011, there are seven lakh manual scavengers working in India. Most are from so-called dalit communities. They are hitherto treated as untouchable by so-called higher castes. Caste system is not just about organizing society but it is unconscious assimilation of ideas. In India, cleanliness and purity are not just principles of hygiene but they determine status of social standing. To this automatically is added concept of dignity of labor or no dignity of labor. Can you expect a Brahman to clean sewer? Can you expect a dalit to learn Vedas? Caste system decides all these things.

At present by one estimate, we find that approximately 600 million Indians defect in open. Almost one and an half million workers from dalit, do the job of carrying night soil on their head. Higher caste people think that there is nothing wrong in that! Another phenomenon we see is that as caste of lower level they think that they should indulge in bad habits and remain dirty. Similarly, person of higher caste is expected to be of good habits and remain clean. All dirt-cleansing jobs are given automatically to social pariah and all clean jobs taken up by socially higher castes. I have seen Brahmans looking with disdain at dalits carrying night soil on their head as if that is their privilege to laugh at all those who clean dirt that Brahman has crated! I have also sen some Brahmans asking their children to keep way from children of those who clean the dirt they have created! In this way caste differences are introduced into the tender minds of the children at the very early state. We should clean that to get other cleanliness.

Toilets are innately dirty by character of its work. Therefore, cleaning it is also job of a dalit. While making a toilet dirty is the work of higher castes! This is a dilemma; we cannot neglect as these two groups of castes stand on two opposite sides of dirt. This also means, creating dirt is done by higher caste and cleaning that dirt is done by dalits. When we see dirt of any type in houses, roads and any other place, we see that it is largely created by so-called clean people from the society. While dalits are continuously, busy in their capacity to clean the dirt that these higher-class people keep making more dirt. For example, when higher caste person gets off from a train or bus he, unwittingly though throws the ticket on road, as if it is his right to do it, expecting that scavenger dalit shall remove it and clean the road. All these things happen so naturally and by everybody in our country that we do not think it as any thing abnormal. It is almost part of our culture. We have to clean this dirt first. Some people think they are superior and some others think they are inferior. Jains consider them as superior and Brahman also think they are superior to all; they call them gods of the earth or Bhudev! Iyars and Iyangars also think they are superior to all. This mentality is our main dirt. Some communities think they are inferior for example, scheduled caste people consider them as inferior and so Dalit. This is also dirt in the minds of those people. I feel cleaning these complexes is more important than sweeping brooms on roads. If we could clean this dirt we will be a clean country. Roads, toilets and such places will get cleaned automatically because people will not create dirt in the first place. They will become dirt conscious. This I say because all those who think superior are the people who create dirt.

Then what is the meaning of this campaign of CLEAN INDIA? I really do not know what Mr. Modi has in his mind but to my understanding, the time has come for so-called higher-class societies to learn that they should clean the dirt they make and should not expect and wait for dalits to come and clean it for them. For that first they should remove dirt in their minds for dalits who have been cleaning their dirt all these years.

We see at home mostly, the housewife (or women folks) in middle class and lower class communities do the job of cleaning toilets. They are like dalits at home by that. We never can expect the man of the house to do cleaning of the toilets at home. Interesting part of this is that in a dalit household also their toilets are not cleaned by men of the house but by women. By my understanding of CLEAN INDIA, it is a change in attitude of men at home that they do the cleaning of toilets and other cleaning work at home and should not depend or force their housewife or daughters to do it. We treat women as dalits at home. To stop that and cleansing be considered as duty of all members of the house should be the purpose of this campaign. If this we achieve our old system of caste will be modified and improved. About the status of woman in house as one Brahman told me is quiet interesting. He said a woman is always dalit as she neither can learn Vedas, cannot fight in war, cannot do business to manage economics of society and so what she does is work of Sudra and so they are essentially dalit at home. Even a wife of Brahman is dalit at home according to Manusmruti. We have to do cleansing of all these stupid concepts and so one friend of mine told me that cleaning out books such as Manusmruti be the first cleansing job. This is another type of CLEAN INDIA and we have to do first that cleansing. If we can achieve it, that will automatically reflect in other types of cleanings.

We see many celebrities holding a jhadoo and showing that they are contributing to this campaign. I do not think that is enough. The real dirt cleaning is about cleaning toilets! How many of these fashionable socialites will be ready to do that? Concepts, dignity of labor is absent in Indian society. We have to introduce that as authentic mannerism and stop ridiculing people who do lower level jobs. If this we achieve I feel we have done half job of CLEAN INDIA campaign. Can I request Nita Ambani and Amir Khan to cleanse one of the public toilets in this city by their own hands? If they can do it, that will be exemplary, not holding a jhadoo on already clean road. I request these so called great socialites to stop these fashionable tamasha and do something really effective.

I learned some interesting reactions from some people who are glued to concept of higher castes; not ready to do cleaning of dirt they create. One Marwadi executive refused to remove dirt that he had created and was searching for somebody to do it for him. I asked him, who cleans his bottom after he finishes defecting in the toilet? He told me, of course, he does it. How can any body else can do that for him? He counter questioned. I asked him; is that not dirty work he does without complaining? He could not answer and after some thinking, realized that cleaning is not a bad work but it is the basic work to begin with. I asked him why he feels shy of removing the dirt that he has created. While creating dirt we do not feel bad. He replied that he has no grumble in doing that but he is afraid of society. At toilet, nobody sees him doing what he does; and so no objection to that. Well, this is what we have to stop. CLEAN INDIA, if can attain this sense of understanding, I feel much is achieved by this campaign. One young man in my neighborhood asks his wife to clean the room by a jhadoo; he adamantly refused to do that as being work of women in the house if no servant is available. On this issue there are almost everyday quarrels in that house. This mindset was introduced in the mind of this man by his mother during his childhood; that is the qualm. How to clean that mindset put by their mothers? There are mis-concepts of superiority and inferiority complexes. Many wrong habits our people have developed from these complexes. If these complexes are toned up, INDIA CLEAN up will be easier. Without this change of attitude any apparent cleaning if done, it is of no real effect. One foreigner told me that when they come out of a bus they do not throw away the tickets on road but carry it to their house or office and their it is dropped in the garbage box. We should learn this from them. If all do that there will be no dirt on roads. That means cleaning dirt is less important and avoiding to first create dirt is more important. Prevention is always better than cure! As we say.

There is a spiritual aspect to doing cleaning work. If we do not discuss it, I feel we have not touched all aspects of idea of cleaning India. Mahatma Gandhi used to clean not grounds of his ashram but he would go to clean toilets at the ashram. These are our leaders. This explains how difficult it is to remove this mentality. CLEAN INDIA is not so easy as we feel. In Yoga, they insist that doing such seemingly lowly work is essential to destroy your ego. By doing such, lowly but essential work a practitioner of Yoga can curb his excessive ego and that helps him make great progress in his spiritual career. If we can remove stigma on work of doing cleaning we will bring cleanliness to India and not otherwise. Remember cleaning secretly is not recommended in Yoga practice but you have to do this work right in front of other people. That helps reduce your ego.