To be clean is to keep ourselves as well as our immediate surroundings in a formidable state, i.e., free from any foreign substances that may disrupt our peaceful and hygienic survival.
It is very appropriate to say that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. This proverb was first used by John Wesley in 1778, however its origins runs back to ancient Babylonian and Hebrew texts.
What is it to be clean?
Cleanliness can be broadly classified into two broad categories:
Personal Hygiene – This refers to being clean in the bodily sense. Involving brushing, bathing and personal sanitation. This is extremely important for the prevention of various sorts of pathogenic diseases that are increasing day by day due to increase in Global temperature (which favours growth of such insects and parasites).
If we do not maintain proper personal hygiene, we may end up spreading various diseases to our loved ones as well as to the general population, which in the worst case may even induce a widespread epidemic.
Diseases like hepatitis, cholera, malaria, etc. are caused due to poor observance of personal hygiene. Various means of maintenance of personal hygiene include Sanitizers, Soaps, Shampoos, Anti-Septic Lotions, etc.
Environmental Hygiene – Just like personal hygiene refers to keeping one’s body clean, environmental hygiene is the practice of keeping the environment around us free from any sort of hazardous substances which may result in the disruption of the ecological balance and might distort the food chain leading to a more or less apocalyptic future where we will be left with no option but to get annihilated along with all other species.
The environment just like anything in the world loves to stay in a state of homeostasis and that includes proper waste disposal and management. Often times, due to pressure of population on the environment, we tend to neglect the most important aspect of healthy living, namely Waste Disposal and Management.
It is extremely important to our survival, more so in this era of rapid industrialization, when we are being surrounded and getting chocked by a plethora of toxic substances as a byproduct of industrial processes. Many factories dump their waste (which is often untreated) straight into large water bodies.
This causes the aquatic life to be polluted too, which in turn threatens human life when consumed causing a superfluous array of diseases ranging from paralysis to fluoride poisoning and eventually to death.
Problems to Cleanliness
- Of the 355 million menstruating women in India, only 12% use sanitary pads. This may lead to various infections and diseases including the deadly cervical cancer. With such horrifying numbers, not even in our wildest dreams can we make developed India a reality.
- A study done by the Hygiene Council, supported by Reckitt Benckiser, published that in a survey, 92% of chopping boards were found contaminated, 45% of homemakers don’t wash the fruits and vegetable pre-consumption and only 44% of children are made to wash their hands after playground activities. These statistics are of the most horrifying nature for a developing nation like ours as it holds the key to unlocking a Pandora’s Box of diseases that may ruin an entire generation’s future.
- As per the recent Cleanliness Report of the Government, 52.1 percent of India still defecates in the open. This lays the foundation of a generation toiling with diseases like cholera and hepatitis. Even in our neighboring tine country Bangladesh, which got its independence much later than ours, only 5% people defecate in the open.
- What is more surprising is that in India, access to toilet and its subsequent usage are not at all correlated. Almost 60% of the population has sanitary toilets installed at their houses but only 48.9% of the population uses those toilets.
- When it comes to open trash disposal, statistically, we are in a more dilapidated state. We tend to throw trash anywhere and everywhere. We litter clean roads, parks, beaches as well as water bodies. Here lack of proper education and awareness is the foremost culprit. People are often seeing spitting tobacco on the clean walls and roads. They even litter places where dustbins have been provided. A dustbin culture is what we have to develop. Use of a Blue and Green dustbin as professed by the Health Ministry, enumerates the disposal of wet and dry waste in them respectively.
What can be done?
Various steps are being taken up by individuals as well as administrative bodies to mitigate the problem of uncleanliness:
- The major issue in India which poses a hindrance to the achievement of complete hygiene both personal and environmental is the lack of awareness. Although the government is taking steps like airing audio advertisements and posters promoting cleanliness, the problem has to be solved at the root level. Preliminary and primary education syllabuses must call for the schools to inculcate in children the habits of personal and environmental sanitation. Under the Integrated Children Development Scheme (ICDS), children are supposed to be taught cleanliness, washing hands, proper waste disposal and personal sanitation. However, recent media reports have evidences supporting the fact that these kids are not being taught anything, rather the food provided to them is also contaminated. The grants and proceeds paid by the government for the purchase of free sanitary pads and hand wash soaps have been gulped away by dishonest individuals.
- The Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP) started in 1986 focused on the construction of individual sanitary toilets for personal use.
- The Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, India’s own cleanliness drive, is an important step taken up by the Government for the fabrication of the foundation for a clean India. It was announced on 2nd October, 2014 at Rajghat, New Delhi. This Programme aimed at undertaking massive cleaning of the Ganga and various others polluted rivers as well as providing proper sanitation to the downtrodden, underprivileged and remote areas. Factories beside the Taj Mahal and other places of historic importance have also come under intense scrutiny of the environmental impact assessment teams.
The fact of the matter is that even after seven decades of independence, we have not achieved the goals that we set for ourselves.
We have lagged tremendously because of the factors of red tape as well as fund drainage due to legislative loopholes. If we want a healthier and cleaner tomorrow, drastic steps have to be taken immediately or else Mother Nature will retaliate in its most ferocious form crumbling all of mortality into non-existence.