The following is the script of the speech I gave at the North Zone Inter University Youth Festival held at Jammu University in January 2015. I was adjudged IInd amongst speakers from 25 universities.
I don’t want to alarm anybody in this room, but it’s just come to my attention that the person to your right has disappointed this country. The person sitting to your left has neglected this country. The person sitting in your very own chair has failed this country. Each one of us in attendance here including the person voicing these concerns has betrayed this country.
A very good morning to all and sundry present here. Today, I occupy this esteemed pulpit to share my views on the topic “Clean India”.
In the time you took to clap for me on the stage, 5 children in Bihar are already dead due to water born diseases, another truckload of untreated garbage has already been added to the Bhalswa Dumping site in Delhi, the iron content in the Periyar river of Kerala has swelled by another ton , another generation has been crippled by faulty nuclear waste disposal in Jharkhand, and another child has been born into the clan of manual scavengers.
It pains in the heart when in I see Raj loves Simran written on the wall of an 800 year old fort. How many of us feel guilt worth a second after throwing a wrapper out of the bus? We take dip in Ganga to wash away our sins. How many of us give a second glance to the moving mass of sewage, solid waste, and untreated industrial effluents it has become?
Gone are those days. Gone are those days when even the British archaeologists were taken aback by the intricacies of the drainage system laid in the harrapan civilization to keep the cities clean. Gone are those days, when Gandhi took the task of cleaning toilets in the jail and others followed suit
What is this Moral vacuum? It has become a way of our lives. Bitter but true. And even if some tries to change it, the rut of system rots him out. I am reminded of a professor on Satamev Jayate who successfully built a park in a garbage dump in Mumbai in just 2crores and was surprised when another company was given the project for 20 crores.
What we need today is a comprehensive cleanliness mission encompassing: general awareness about hygiene, open defecation; availability of safe drinking water, a detailed sanitation programme in rural areas using innovations like water free toilets, proper solid and liquid solid waste management by municipality and gram panchayat and above all the total, social intellectual revolution of the Indian Psyche.
“Swach Bharat Abhiyan”.I see a ray of hope. Several cleanliness drives were launched by previous govts like the nirmal bharat abhiyan in 1999 but for the first time cleanliness as a moral issue and our duty first “instead of a right” has occupied the center stage. For the first time, cleanliness has been directly liked to economic growth as it can increase the GDP, create employment, reduce health costs. Tourism is directly linked to cleanliness. More the cities clean, more tourists and more revenue we have.
As Gandhi said, “Change comes from within. ” Every citizen should take the onus.
We have heard what we have to do. We have seen what we need to do. Now is the time to do it, and together we can. Together we can “Clean India”.