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Changing the dirty picture!

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Author : Sudhirendar Sharma

Since its launch two years ago, on Oct 2, 2014, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has persisted in the country’s imagination as a task worth pursuing, aimed at transforming peoples’ attitude towards open defecation once and for all. The sustained impetus to the scheme, including new behavioural change ads, has raised hope amidst the current stinking despair that an end will be put to the national scourge by 2019.

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Ambitious in its targets, the scheme has galvanized support of many departments in the government to trigger change. SBM is perhaps the first-of-its-kind scheme that has sought to bring about behavioural change to an age-old practice of so-called ‘personal convenience’. In addition to the meeting the physical target of constructing toilets, the scheme has to contend with the ineffable attitude of a vast majority who prefer ‘open’ to the ‘closet’

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Yet, the scheme has made significant progress. Over 2.3 crore household toilets have been constructed in 88, 879 villages, making 23 districts ‘open defecation free’. And, as many as 141 cities have been freed from this impending disgrace. To add to it, door to door collection of waste has been implemented in 39,571 urban wards in the country, which accounts for 48 per cent of the wards in 4,041 cities in the country.

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The picture holds promise. While in urban areas 36 per cent households own a toilet, 55 percent rural households have so far been equipped with the convenience of a toilet. Over 76,000 community toilets have been built in the cities thus far which accounts for 30 per cent of the target. The pace of constructing public toilets in urban areas has been rather slow, only 9 per cent of the targeted 2.3 lakhs are in place.

Two years is too short a time, given a three-decade old legacy of slow pace by SBM predecessors. The Central Rural Sanitation Programme, launched in 1986, and rechristened as the Total Sanitation Campaign in 1999, had sought to subsidize toilet construction in rural areas. Its revamped avatar, Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, launched in 2012 had shifted focus on toilet usage over toilet construction by giving a booster dose to mass awareness.

It must, however, be noted that each of the previous schemes had set targets that were far from achieved. Transforming entrenched habits by setting ambitious targets can have limited impact in a country where some 650 million people relieve themselves under the open sky. While a significant majority may not be able to afford a toilet, a sizeable number has little qualms of easing themselves under the open skies.

Changing human behaviour has multiple dimensions, moreso when there isn’t any credible evidence linking toilet coverage to better health conditions. Consequently, radical social change may not be achieved by imposing new ideological position alone. Eliminating open defecation is undoubtedly the need of the hour, but for SBM to make a significant dent behaviour change has to move center stage in the implementation process.

Need it be said that the government manpower is not adequately equipped to engineer shifts in social behaviour, moreso when it is a case of ‘old habits die hard’. Add to this is the dingy toilet with insufficient lighting that acts as a deterrent to its use, which according to VS Naipaul created the fear of claustrophobia within a closet. Many of those who opt for open skies to do so because their sensory faculties miss out any engagement inside the toilet.

The diversity of our vast cultural landscape and its immense economic disparity warrants varied solutions to the same problem at different locations. Therefore, the need is to get a fresh measure of the problem after discounting past failures. The need for developing toilet design to suit differing perceptions cannot be over-stated. Working closely with people, understanding how they are thinking will involve a ‘nudge’ rather than a push.

Nudge hypothesis is now a major area of behavioural research, creating a mix of software and hardware solutions to a range of difficult situations, from encouraging households on waste recycling to inspiring people to donate organs. As a strategy, nudge has found practical applications for governments to apply, demonstrating that for governments to be cost-effective it should do more steering and less rowing.

SBM has rightly been selected to change sanitation behaviour as a headline priority in the country. Widespread political support on the other hand has offered a great opportunity to rid a problem that is worth 6.4 per cent of GDP due to productivity loss. Nothing could be more urgent than the fact that Rs 20,000 crore spent on sanitation programs since 1999, and until the launch of SBM, has added to the numbers of open defecators in the country.

The question that begs an answer is: why toilet is not a priority for millions of households? Is decision-making conditioned by the cognitive limitations of the human mind? It is the understanding of human psychology that the government machinery would need help in getting a sense of, before devising strategies for providing context-specific choice architecture for people as there is a subtle distinction between a toilet and the idea of a toilet.

The challenge before the policymakers would be to engage with behavioural economists to create conditions such that open defecators not only reflect upon their choices and dilemmas but are encouraged to throw away their blinkers too. Luckily, the government has the political will and has caught the attention of the masses.

But five years does not offer the luxury of time in changing the dirty picture!

*Dr Sudhirendar Sharma is an independent researcher on water and sanitation issues.

Mahatma Gandhi: A political trend-setter

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Author : Dr. S. Chandni Bi

Special Feature-3 on Gandhi Jayanti

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi born in the middle of 19th century. We are in the 21st century, yet his memory lives with us. The Father of the Nation never ceases to amaze young and old how such a simple and humble human being like any one of us could reach such unattainable heights. His selfless deep thinking for the common good elevated him to such a peak.

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When Gandhi entered the scene of Indian National Movement he was nearly fifty years old. He gained experience over more than two decades, working for the common cause of Indians in South Africa, adopting different political tools such as Satyagraha, non-violence and civil disobedience, besides the earlier process of appeals, petitions and pleadings.

His struggles in South Africa helped him gain familiarity and initial acceptance in India.  But the Indian political scenario was completely different.

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Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1869 – 1948) when he was practising as an attorney in South Africa. 

The politicians were more westernised in mindset, social and political activities and even in personal habits and ways of dressing. Gandhi was already familiar with the westernized western trend of moderates and the so-called extremists who reacted to the increasing westernisation but remained stuck to the western method of opposition through guns and bombs.

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Gandhi and Kasturba on their return to India, January 1915

Gandhi came to India in 1915, not knowing what future lay in store for him. On the advice of Gopal Krishana Gokhale, Gandhi toured India to gain first hand self-experience. Gandhi’s simple dress gave signals to the public that he was approachable. His deeds in South Africa generated hopes with the common people to identify him as their Saviour.

There were three incidents –Champaran in Bihar, Kheda in Gujarat and also at Ahmadabad – that identified Gandhi a political trend setter in India.

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Gandhi in 1918, when he led the Kheda Satyagraha.

Champaran involved the sufferings of indigo planters at the hands of British. Gandhi on reaching Champaran was expelled by the Commissioner, but he refused and preferred punishment for his defiance of the law. This was unusual in British India, for Tilak and Annie Besant, when expelled from a particular province, obeyed orders, even though they organized public protests against the expulsion orders. ‘To offer passive resistance or civil disobedience to an unjust order was indeed novel.’ (Bipan Chandra, India’s Struggle for Independence, p-178). Finally, the local government not only allowed him to proceed but appointed him a member of the Inquiry Commission.

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Kheda Satyagraha Gujarat, 1918

Similarly in Kheda, peasants suffered from failure of crops and their appeals of remission of tax were ignored by the government. Gandhi advised them to withhold revenue, to fight ‘unto death against such a spirit of vindictiveness and tyranny’ and show that ‘it is impossible to govern men without their consent’. All peasants, who could pay and could not, were asked to pledge that they will forgo the tax. But Gandhi did not hesitate to withdraw the agitation after the condition of the peasants worsened.

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Ahmadabad Mill Strike 1918

In Ahmedabad, a dispute was brewing between the mill workers and the mill owners of Ahmadabad over the withdrawal of Plague Bonus. The owners wanted to discontinue the bonus when the epidemic had passed while the workers wanted that to be continued, to compensate the hike in prices due to the World War I. Here the British Collector himself approached Gandhi to bring pressure on the mill owners and work out a compromise to avoid shutdown.

Gandhi persuaded both the workers and the owners to agree to arbitration by a tribunal. But the mill owners breached the agreement which Gandhi took it as a serious issue and advised the workers to go on strike and insisted that no violence be used against employers. To encourage the workers, he took on a fast and promised he would be the first to starve, if needed. This brought pressure on the mill owners and they submitted the issue to a tribunal. The strike was withdrawn and the tribunal awarded 35% increase which the workers had demanded.

There is a common thread in these three events. Gandhi provided leadership to economically lower classes. Gandhi made a systematic study of the issues involved and made decisive impact through his policy of civil disobedience and non-co operation. For the first time in Indian politics, a politician had addressed the sufferings of marginalized Indians.

These events set the tone for the Indian freedom struggle acquiring an inclusive character. Gandhi gave leadership to all sections of the people of India, irrespective of caste, colour and creed, in the struggle for freedom.

This was a political watershed. He set a new paradigm of leadership. He laid the foundation of a true democratic India.

*Author is Associate Professor, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.

Musiri: Story of an Ecologically Sensible Public Toilet

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Author : Sopan Joshi

Not far from the Cauvery river, in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruchirapalli district, is a public toilet run by the local government. Located at Saliyar Marg, alongside an irrigation canal that brings Cauvery water to farms downstream, the structure with 14 enclosures – seven each for men and women – has been built by the Nagar Panchayat of Musiri. The local government looks after its maintenance and upkeep.

About a decade ago, the Musiri facility shot into fame as a public toilet where users are paid a charge, instead of users paying to use a facility, as happens in some other places. That, however, was only to encourage people living in neighbouring localities to try out the new-concept toilets. For these toilets are not linked to a sewage system, neither does it need soak pits or leach pits underneath.

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EcoSan Toilets in Musiri

The excreta and urine from this public toilet goes back to the agricultural fields, and helps grow delicious banana and other crops. All this happens through an entirely safe method. The public toilet of Musiri provides sanitation and dignity to people who were forced to defecate in the open earlier. It also contributes to food security, underlining the immense role sanitation programmes can play in improving not just public health, but also public wealth.

All the 14 toilets here are designed to separate urine from faeces. When a user sits on these commodes, the urine slants off a slope in front, going into a little hole. From there, it goes into a storage tank, which is taken to the fields. Urine is largely free of pathogens, and is a rich source of nitrogen and phosphorus. (India is the largest importer of phosphate in the world, and this is a small way to reduce the import bill.)

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The faeces fall down into an enclosed chamber, where they stay dry. After defecation, the user steps back to wash herself or himself over a small basin. Water from this is guided to a small charcoal filter, which makes it safe to be discharged into the ground. The users are encouraged to throw down some mud on the faces to further dry it out. There is not much bad smell; one of the reasons for foul odour from toilets is the mixing of urine and faces. If you can separate the two, the smell is not unbearable, the users of the toilet point out.

What happens when the pit underneath fills up? Well, each toilet enclosure has two commodes. When the tank underneath one fills up with faeces, it is closed and the second commode is opened. This allows the faeces to degrade naturally. By the time the other receptacle fills up, the faeces in the first one decompose into mud that is safe to touch. It has no pathogens that naturally occupy our faces. So, by the time one faeces pit fills up, the other gets emptied. This ensures that each toilet enclosure remains functional right through the year. One of the two pits always have faces decomposing naturally and safely.

This mud is rich in carbon, which is applied to farmlands. (The soil of hot regions loses carbon rapidly because of the heat of direct sunlight. It is, hence, important to continually add carbon to the soil to keep it productive, a practice farmers have followed in India since millennia.) This is in sync with the natural cycle of soil nutrients, of which humans are merely one part. In nature, most nutrients of the soil go back into the soil, creating new plants, new life. Water-borne sewage takes soil nutrients – that we consume as food, and evacuate as urine and faces – out of the ground and puts it in water. This impoverishes the soil and contaminates the water.

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The Musiri toilet follows the principle of ‘Closing The Loop’, ensuring soil nutrients are returned safely to the soil and water in not contaminated. The public toilet of Musiri does not require water-borne sewerage or underground soak/leach pits. In fact, the story of this public toilet is deeply linked to groundwater.

Situated so close to the Cauvery river, right on the banks of one of its irrigation canals, this part of Musiri has a very high groundwater table. When toilets were being built here under a sanitation drive, underground soak/leach pits turned very inconvenient. Groundwater seeped into them, making the excreta float up. This is when SCOPE, a social organisation in Tiruchirapalli, learned of ‘ecological sanitation’ through some government officials. Since then, SCOPE has built more than 2,000 toilets based on Ecological Sanitation, or EcoSan for short.

EcoSan is based on the work of Swedish architect and town planner Uno Winblad. He developed this in the 1970s, while working in water-scarce Ethiopia. Several parts of Asia, however, have been building toilets based on this concept since ancient times. In India, for example, the traditional toilet in Ladakh – called Chhagra – is designed to collect excreta, which is applied to the soil. In the cold, trans-Himalayan desert of Ladakh, traditional wisdom forbids the wasting of any resources, especially soil nutrients.

EcoSan works in dry areas as well as in flooded areas. It shows why we must learn from those who face serious problems, and find ways to overcome them.

*Author is a journalist and a research fellow at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi. He is the author of Jal Thal Mal, a Hindi book released recently, which tackles the science of sanitation.

Swachh Bharat : The Mission Marches On

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Author : S.M. Shah Nawaz

India is all set to lead the comity of nations in the times to come with its economy poised to become one of the largest in the world in foreseeable future. The nation is surging ahead with great pace on the path of economic development. However, can we really achieve our goals without meeting the social and environmental parameters? The first and foremost amongst such parameters is cleanliness. We cannot afford to put the filth under the carpet of development.

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Gandhiji visualized cleanliness in three ways – a clean mind, a clean body and clean surroundings. Holding that ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’, he once emphatically wrote, “We can no more gain God’s blessing with an unclean body than with an unclean mind. A clean body cannot reside in an unclean city. So long as you do not take the broom and the bucket in your hands, you cannot make your towns and cities clean”.

And on Gandhi Jayanti two years ago, the Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi just did that – he took the broom right in his hands and spurred the whole country into action. Shri. Modi said “A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150 birth anniversary in 2019,” as he launched the Swachh Bharat Mission in New Delhi on 2nd October 2014.

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The five-year long campaign was launched across the country as a national movement with an aim to turn it into a ‘Jan Andolan’ and change the face of the country by 2019. The countrymen responded very enthusiastically to the call and people from all walks of life have come forward and joined this mass movement of cleanliness.

However, keeping the streets, lanes and by-lanes of the country is not the only objective. There are many more goals to achieve.

According to an UN report, India accounts for a major portion of the over 1.1 billion people in the world who practice open defecation. Open defecation refers to the practice whereby people go out in fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using the toilet to defecate. Society does not view the lack of a toilet as unacceptable. Building and owning a toilet is not perceived as aspirational. Construction of toilets is still seen as the government’s responsibility rather than a priority that individual households should take responsibility for.

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The challenge is to motivate people to see a toilet as fundamental to their social standing, status and well-being. The practice of open defecation is not limited to rural India. It is found in urban areas too where the percentage of people who defecate in the open is around 12 percent, while in rural settings it is about 65 percent.  Open defecation poses a serious health threat especially to children. The practice is the main reason India reports a very high number of diarrhoeal deaths among children under-five. Children weakened by frequent diarrhoea episodes are more vulnerable to malnutrition, stunting, and opportunistic infections such as pneumonia. This is not at all surprising that percentage of children in India suffering from some degree of malnutrition is very high. Diarrhoea and worm infection are two major health conditions that affect school-age children impacting their learning abilities.

The faecal-oral route is also an important polio transmission pathway. Open defecation increases communities’ risk of polio infection. Open defecation also puts at risk the dignity of women in India. Women feel constrained to relieve themselves only under the cover of darkness for reasons of privacy to protect their dignity.

The Union Government wants to change the situation completely. It wants to completely eliminate the practice of open defecation by 2019. The work is in full swing for the construction of crores of toilets all across the nation – both in rural and urban areas. With this, the Government is also streamlining and upgrading the sewage system wherever required.

“Educating girls is also my priority. I have noticed that girls drop out of schools by the time they reach class 3rd or 4th just because schools don’t have separate toilets for them. They don’t feel comfortable. There should be toilets for boys and girls in all schools.

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We should concentrate on girl students not quitting schools” said the Prime Minister on the Teachers Day two years ago on 5th September 2014, few days before he launched the mission. Therefore, Swachh Vidyalaya concept also became an essential component of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

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To encourage people to take the Mission forward, Prime Minister Modi on his popular radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’, has been constantly lauding the efforts of organizations and individuals who have been contributing positively towards the Swachh Bharat Mission. And this too is having the desired effect.

The Government can provide the required infrastructure and undertake various campaigns to spread awareness about the importance of cleanliness and it is most earnestly trying to do so but it is the people of India who need to adopt the concept of the mission wholeheartedly and make necessary behavioral changes in their attitudes and approach to make this ‘Jan Andolan’ a grand success. What we really need to do is to make cleanliness, a part of our primary school curriculum, and we need to practice it throughout our lives.

*Author is a senior journalist of long standing and is the Editor of an Urdu fortnightly.

Mahatma Gandhi : My Life is My Message

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Author : Justice C.S. Dharmadhikari

Special Feature-2 on Gandhi Jayanti

Mahatama Gandhi summed up his philosophy of life with the words, “My Life is my Message”. His multifarious and dynamic personality was based on truth and nothing but the truth. Non – violence was another intrinsic element of this philosophy.

At the All India Congress Committee meeting in Bombay on 8th August, 1942, that is, on the eve of Quit India Movement, Mahatma Gandhi declared, “I want to live full span of my life and according to me, the full span of life is 125 years. By that time, India will not only be free but the whole world will be free.

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Mahatma Gandhi giving the Quit India speech on August 8, 1942, on the eve of the Quit India movement.

Today, I do not believe that Englishmen are free, I do not believe that Americans are free. They are free to do what? To hold other part of humanity in bondage? Are they fighting for their liberty? I am not arrogant. I am not a proud man. I know the distinction between pride, arrogance, insolence and so on. But what I am saying is, I believe, in the voice of God. It is the fundamental truth that I am telling you.”

Gandhi was the most normal of men. He was universal, such a man cannot be measured, weighed, or estimated. He is the measure of all things. Gandhi was not a philosopher, nor a politician. He was a humble seeker of truth. Truth unites, because it can be only one. You can cut a man’s head, but not his thoughts. Non – violence is the only other aspect of the sterling coin of truth. Non – violence is love, the very content of life.

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Gandhi leading the 1930 Salt March, a notable example of Satyagraha.

In this principle of non–violence, Gandhi introduced technique of resistance to evil and untruth. His Satyagraha is inspired by boundless love and compassion. It is opposed to sin, not sinner, the evil, not evil doer. For him truth was God and in that sense he was man of God. Truth is not yours or mine. It is neither Western nor Eastern.

Gandhi’s prayer stands for invoking the inner strength of men for the good of one another, his spinning wheel for dignity of productive labour, and broomstick for abolition of social inequalities based on birth. He wanted freedom from rule of merchandise. He wanted rationality in productive system, which should be based on human rationality. He was not an orthodox economist. His plan was peace, security and progress for human race as a whole.  He believed that the planning should be based on ‘Man Power’ rather than horse power. These issues are not restricted to India, but are global in nature. These principles are universal. He insisted on individual code of conduct. He introduced an entirely new dimension in technique of social transformation.

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Gandhi picking up grains of salt at the end of his march

One cannot comprehend Satyagraha without connecting it with Constructive Work or the Ashram observances. Gandhi, the statesman and the fighter for freedom, could not have been like what he was, had he not been Gandhi, the social reformer, and Gandhi, the saint. It is the quest for truth in all its glory that creates Gandhi, the man.

Gandhi never pretended to be consistent with previously held views in his life. He readily abandoned his stands when he felt the need to do so. These “inconsistencies” often infuriated his antagonists, who felt that he was a “slippery” politician. I think his inconsistencies were more a reflection of an ever – growing personality to whom consistency was less important than being true to the inner voice of truth as understood at any given point of time.

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Gandhi ji took up the ancient but powerful idea of Ahimsa or non – violence and made it familiar throughout the world, particularly in political and economic field. However, non – violence means more than the mere absence of violence. It is something more positive, more meaningful and dynamic and Gandhiji combined it with a sense of responsibility for the welfare of people. His great achievement was to demonstrate through his own example that non – violence can be implemented effectively not only in the political arena, but also in our day – to – day life. His whole life was his experiment with truth.

He knew that human dignity cannot be preserved on charity. Mutuality and well – being is the essence of life. It is therefore S+G that is “Science plus Gandhi”, which alone can save a planet earth. Gandhi was an apostle of peace and brotherhood. The modern nuclear weapons, not only pose a grave threat to world peace but will destroy mother earth. Apart from the ecological sustainable model of development preached by Gandhi, decentralistion of socio – economic power based on non – violence, and building up of people’s power, communal harmony based on people’s initiative, rather than the state power is the only alternative.

The 20th century was the most violent period in human history. More people have suffered and have been killed by organized violence than any other time before. The wars, the genocides, the weapons of mass destruction have created such an enormous mass misery and agony that it is difficult to find any trace of hope. Therefore, Gandhi’s teachings of non – violence are most relevant today. Now, though late, there is a realization that there is no other alternative. This is the reason why amidst report of increasing teenage violence across the United States, a bill have been introduced in New Jersey Assembly seeking to include Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings of non – violence in the school curriculum. On 12th May 2000, on Mother’s Day in New York, several thousand mothers resolved and demanded a ban on the manufacture of arms, and its use. Therefore, in my view the teachings of Gandhi are not only relevant but also the only alternative.

Some people seem to think that compassion or non-violence is just a passive emotional response, rather than a rational stimulus to action. They forget that Gandhi combined it with a sense of responsibility. He was not a mere onlooker but was an active participant. He first followed and then preached. He was a leader in real sense of the said term. Whenever there was a risk to life he was at the fore front and never had a desire for power or wealth. Sacrifice was key word of his life. He lived a simple need based life because he knew that needs have an end whereas greed is endless. Gandhiji knew that “In times to come people will not judge us by the creed we profess or label we wear or the slogans we shout, but by our work, industry, sacrifice, honesty and purity of character.” He also knew that man who wants freedom has to take tremendous risk. That was essence of his life, that is why he could say that “My Life is My Message”.

*Author, formerly the Acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, is currently the Chairman, Institute of Gandhian Studies, Wardha and Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon.

Soul, Sanity and Swachh Bharat! Swachh Bharat is the most profound statement India can make to the world

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Author : M.Venkaiah Naidu

Sangeeta Ahwale of Saikheda village in Washim district of Maharashtra sold her ‘mangalsutra’ to build a toilet. 104 year old Kunwar Bai of Kotabharri village of Dhamtari district in Chattisgarh sold her goats to build a toilet. Priyanka Adivasi of Gopalpura village in Kolaras block returned to her parents as there is no toilet at her in-laws’ house. A muslim woman in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh presented a toilet to her new daughter-in-law. There are several reports of girls refusing to get married into houses without toilets. In all these cases, women are pioneering a new spirit for upholding self-esteem. School girl Lavanya sat on hunger strike until all 80 households in her village Halenahalli in Karnataka built toilets. These are only some glimpses of a new tide of transformation towards a Swachh Bharat.

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Swachh Bharat Mission, launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014 is one of the pioneering initiatives launched over the last two years. Certainly, this idea of making a Clean India is not a new one.

Earlier too, there were similar efforts like the Total Sanitation Mission and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. But the difference this time around is the power of intent and implementation.  Focus now is on ‘behavioral change’ which is necessary for using toilets. It is easy to build toilets but more challenging is to make people use them.

It is amazing that Mahatma Gandhi voiced his concerns about poor sanitation in the country exactly 100 years ago while speaking at Benares Hindu University in Varanasi. He was appalled by what he saw all along the streets that led to the famous Kashi Viswanath Temple. Gandhiji said that sanitation is as important as political freedom. India got freed from colonial rule 69 years back but not from the curse of filth and dirt all around in the open. Prime Minister Shri Modi , hence, launched a mission seeking freedom of the country from this scourge by 2019.

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All through the ages, Indian culture and ethos have stressed on the ‘purity of soul’. As a means to individual salvation, this concept of purity of soul virtually encompassed all aspects of thought processes and actions including living in harmony with the nature. Piles of garbage all around, throwing litter in open, polluting canals and rivers, blocked sewers and drains, rising water and air pollution, felling trees and forests is not in consonance with  ‘purity of living’ inspired by ‘purity of soul’.

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Swachh Bharat Mission seeks to restore harmony between the soul and the nature by reorienting thought processes and actions of people. It has psychological and socio-economic dimensions. These correspond to behavioral modification and inclusive development by way of implications.

Open defecation and solid and liquid waste management are the two critical components of realizing the goal of a Clean India. While the former is a common concern in both rural and urban areas, the latter is of prime concern in urban areas. Given the serious implications for health and particularly, the economic burden on the poor placed by diseases caused by poor sanitation, ensuring Open Defecation Free India including clean cities is the need of the hour.

Behavioral changes to be ushered in include promoting the habit of using toilets, not throwing any litter in the open, segregating solid waste at source, making a habit of sanitation practices like washing hands before eating, keeping living and work places and public spaces clean, community participation in managing public sanitation assets, maintaining parks etc. in essence, sanitation both in private and public spaces shall emerge as a shared concern of all citizen. This sensitization is key to the success of ongoing efforts for a Swachh Bharat.

Open defecation is a clear negation of self-esteem besides being a telling commentary on inequitable development. This has become a habit more out of compulsion and given an opportunity, no one would like to go out to defecate. It has no justification whatsoever. This is even more outrageous in urban areas.

It is heartening to know that over the last two years about 85,000 villages and 141 cities have become Open Defecation Free. Over two crore toilets have been built in rural areas and over 25 lakhs in urban areas since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission.

After a slow start, Swachh Bharat Mission has since gained momentum and this shall be maintained over the next three years, for the country to be freed from the perils of poor hygiene. Swachh India is the most profound statement that India can make to the world by 2019.

In the run up to the second anniversary of Swachh Bharat Mission, cross country awareness campaigns and activities are being taken up to rekindle the spirit of sanitation and to renew our pledge for a Clean India.

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On day one Prime Minister told me to ensure that the Swachh mission becomes a ‘Jan Andolan’ and not a governmental programme. We have made earnest efforts in this regard reaching out to all sections of people seeking their involvement in this mass campaign and to motivate fellow citizens as well. Governors, Chief Ministers, elected representatives of people at various levels, industry bodies, iconic persons from different walks of life are now involved in the ongoing effort for Swachh Bharat.

Given the Indian values of purity of soul and people selling their family silver for building toilets and the sanitation movement acquiring mass character, Swachh Bharat will not remain a distant dream.

*The writer is Union Minister of Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information & Broadcasting.

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Sangeeta Ahwale of Saikheda village in Washim district of Maharashtra sold her ‘mangalsutra’ to build a toilet.
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104 year old Kunwar Bai of Kotabharri village of Dhamtari district in Chattisgarh sold her goats to build a toilet, PM Modi bows to her for exemplary contribution to Swachh Bharat.
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A muslim woman in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh presented a toilet to her new daughter-in-law.
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School girl Lavanya sat on hunger strike until all 80 households in her village Halenahalli in Karnataka built toilets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Living and Sustainability: A Gandhian Perspective

i201692801Author : Dr D John Chelladurai

Special Feature -1 on Gandhi Jayanti

Modernity has made individual global in one’s potential. With satellite communication, Airways, Earth Movers we are global in our strength and ability. Human life has gained ‘vishwaroop’. From self-centeredness to ecological damage we witness in life ethical transgression at every front.  In our craving for the best in the world, we appear to pursue a perilous path of civilisation.

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Having witnessed the early signs of the onslaught of modern science and industrial revolution across the Europe and its impact on human civilization, Gandhi advocated an alternative way of living.  It was a neat blend of physical, intellectual and spiritual life; as Gandhi would say ‘harmony between word, thought and deed’.  J C Kumarappa articulated it as ‘appropriate’ lifestyle.

It represents an optimised approach to life, keeping in view the appropriateness of the context such as socio, economic, political, biophysical and ecology. It means, doing everything in an optimum manner, in a neither-less-nor-more way.  It produces the best result under a given condition, and is more harmonious with nature.

One can see this optimum principle co-determining all of Gandhi’s approaches to life, be it personal or national, physical or spiritual.  For instance, Gandhi proposed technology be appropriate, neither be too primitive to be of no use, nor too sophisticated to the point of overpowering the very user.  He stated sewing machine as one such appropriate machine.

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It liberates the individual from the toils of hand stitching and does not produce in surplus to the point of creating unemployment, consumes no electricity and pollutes nothing.

Employment is a quantifiable resource within an economy.  Mass production allows few to take more than average of the global share, leaving a large section with less than average, creating a huge ‘opportunity gap’ called unemployment. He proposed decentralised village industries in place of global manufacturing conglomerates, in order to optimise the production possibility with the employment requirement. He proposed what J C Kumarappa put it as ‘economy of permanence’.

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Bread labour on land with appropriate tool is the life worth living, Gandhi said, echoing the idea of Ruskin.  It renders justice to the economy and ecology at the same time.

Poverty and wealth are two extremes. The uniqueness of Gandhi’s optimised approach was that while working on the removal of poverty he would equally insist on ‘voluntary poverty’ among those having surplus. The structural arrangement Gandhi proposed for voluntary poverty was ‘Trusteeship’. He said to Jamnalal Bajaj to ‘be the trustee of your wealth and put it to the use of the poor millions.’

Talking cue from Gandhi’s non-violent appropriate economic ideas, the British economist EF Schumacher wrote “Small is Beautiful: A study of Economics as if People Mattered”.

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And the club of Rome, an association of Nobel laureates brought out the report ‘Limits to Growth’ based on ‘computer simulation of exponential economic and population growth with finite resources’.

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The Limits to Growth first edition cover

They all endorsed what Gandhi said about self restraint and appropriate living.

Ecological Debt Day’ is a day that marks the point in each calendar year where human consumption of natural resources exceeds the earth’s ability to replace those resources that year.  At a sustainable rate of consumption, Ecological Debt Day would fall at the end of each calendar year. As of now, humans devour in 225 days the earth’s provisions meant for 365 days.

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As humanity finishes off the earth’s annual supply by every August 13, what Gandhi said is more prophetic: ‘there is enough for every human’s need but not everyone’s greed’; ‘consuming more than what we actually require amounts to stealing’, a violence against nature. Maybe, ‘fulfillment of needs’ and not the ‘pursuit of greed’ would be the way to delay the ‘Ecological debt day’ by a few notches.

The concept of gram rajya or village republic Gandhi proposed was an optimised society.  The individual requires social association though s/he has serious limitation on the extent to which it can be stretched.  A healthy society would be one in which individual can reach out personally to fellow beings. He visualised a social order akin to Oceanic Circle, with individual at the centre, encircled by family, village, district, state, nation and the world one after the other.

Global living brought diverse humans to co-exist.  People of different religions, ethnic and cultural orientation have come to live in every locality. Information technology has removed geo distance anyway. Between adhering to the rootedness of an individual’s religio-cultural association and embracing social diversity, we need to adopt a mean point of behaviour to keep the society in balance. One of Gandhi’s eleven vratas ‘Sarva Dharma sambhava’ explains this essential virtue especially for global humans.  It is, appreciating plurality while being rooted to one’s faith.

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When E Stanley Jones an American Methodist priest asked Gandhi, Christ says ‘love thy neighbour’, what better message of nonviolence could you give? Gandhi responded by saying ‘I have no enemy’. More than loving one’s enemy, overcoming the habit of seeing an ‘enemy’ in others, is important.

In the spectrum of human behaviour, violence and non-violence constitute two ends; absolute violence being one extreme and puritan nonviolence being the other.  Though a proponent of nonviolence, Gandhi did not go for the extreme expression, but stuck to what was  practical. Thus, he was reconciled to certain inevitable violence, such as ‘driving away animals that spoils cultivation’.

Gandhi employed his optimum approach to health and sanitation too. Today, as World Health Organisation has declared, ‘obesity’ is a global epidemic and a source of all lifestyle hazards.  Gandhi argues, “A man with extraordinary physique is not necessarily healthy. He has merely developed his musculature, possibly at the expense of something else,” Gandhi says.  In his book Key to health he proposed a balanced life of just sufficiently nutritious food, active physical life, good sleep and healthy thinking.  The eco-friendly toilet he designed was one of the best of his time and it was called ‘Wardha Latrine Model’.

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Earth is an inheritance of all life on earth and for all time to come.  If in our pursuit of a grand life, we reduce it to a used up mass of earth, probably we are doing a grave injustice against nature. Gandhi’s nonviolent way of life with its appropriate tools, decentralized social order with an economy of permanence that enable an individual to be ecologically symbiotic, sounds more pertinent a learning for us today than ever before.

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*An alumni of Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Dr D John Chelladurai is currently the Dean, of Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, (Maharashtra), He is a social analyst and specializes in ‘Conflict Transformation’ and ‘Peace Building’. 

ADIEU, INS VIRAAT

Author : Anila B

INS Viraat, the oldest aircraft carrier in the world has completed the decommissioning refit in Cochin Shipyard on 04th September 2016. The ship will be towed back to Mumbai from Kochi for the decommissioning ceremony later this year. The ship arrived Kochi in last July for Essential Repairs and Dry Docking (ERDD) prior to the decommissioning. The second Centaur-Class aircraft carrier of the country has spent 29 years under the Indian flag and 27 years with the Royal Navy of UK, making it a total of 56 years of operational service and she holds the Guinness Record for being the oldest serving warship. The iconic warship played a major role in Operation Jupiter, Operation Parakram and Operation Vijay after commissioned into Indian Navy. Decommissioning of INS Viraat is indeed an emotional moment for India.

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INS Viraat was commissioned into Indian Navy on 12th May 1987 at Plymouth, United Kingdom by Dr. P. C. Alexander, High Commissioner of India to UK. The ship operated Sea Harrier (White Tigers- fighter aircrafts), Seaking 42B (Harpoons- Anti Submarine helicopters) & Seaking 42C (Commando Carrier helicopters) and Chetak (Angles- SAR helicopter) as her main air elements. The Sea Harrier fleet was also decommissioned at Goa in May 2016. Under the Indian Flag, various aircrafts have flown more than 22,034 hours from the decks of INS Viraat. She has spent nearly 2,250 days at sea sailing 5,88,288 NM (10,94,215 KM). This implies that Viraat has been at sea for over six years covering the entire globe about 27 times.

INS Viraat with the compliment of fighters

INS Viraat involved in her first major operation- ‘Operation Jupiter’ in July 1989 as a part of Indian Peace Keeping Operations in Sri Lanka in the wake of the breakdown of the Indo- Sri Lankan Accord of 1986.

OPERATION JUPITER ( OP PAWAN ) 1989

On 27th July 1989, the ship mounted 76 helo sorties off Kochi to embark over 350 army personnel and over 35 tons of stores of 7 Garhwal Rifles. Over the next few weeks, Viraat and her task group remained deployed at a measured distance from the war zone, utilizing the time to train soldiers, which adequately demonstrated the ship’s operational versatility.

She also played a pivotal role in Operation Parakram followed after the terrorist attack on Indian Parliament in 2013. The Ship also played a key role in Operation Vijay by creating blockade against Pakistan during Kargil War in 1999.  The ship has also participated in various international joint exercises like Malabar (with US Navy), Varuna (with French Navy), Naseem-Al-Bahr (with Oman Navy) and has been an integral element of annual Theater Level Operational Exercise (TROPEX). The last operational deployment of the ship was the participation in International Fleet Review (IFR-2016) at Vishakhapatanam on February, 2016.

INS Viraat in International Feet Review 2016 held at Vishakhapatanam on February 2016

INS Viraat was originally commissioned by the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes on 18th November 1959.

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Viraat commissioned by the British Royal Navy, November-1959

Between 1959 and 1970 Hermes served as one of the Royal Navy’s four Strike Carriers, mainly operating in the Indian Ocean.

In 1970, she switched to her second existence as a Commando Carrier or a Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) and her third avatar, between 1976 and 1980 was of an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) carrier with the option to revert to the LPH role at short notice.

In 1982, Hermes saw action in the Falklands under the command of Captain Middleton where she distinguished herself as the Flagship of the Royal Navy in the campaign to regain Falklands and South Georgia from Argentina. The 100-day war in hostile weather saw the Sea Harriers undertake 2376 sorties and shoot down 23 enemy aircraft with the loss of only one aircraft to enemy fire.  The 108 continuous days at sea, without a single major defect, under difficult combat and sea conditions, were her finest hour.

The need for a second aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy was felt in the early 1980’s to ensure force level stability since INS Vikrant was nearing the end of her service life.

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INS Vikrant circa 1984 carrying a unique complement of Sea Harriers, Sea Hawks, Allouette & Sea King helicopters and Alize ASW

On 24th April 1986 it was announced in Parliament that India would acquire HMS Hermes at a cost of £63 million. Hermes commenced a year long refit and refurbishment schedule in April 1986 before commissioning as INS Viraat. The motto of INS Viraat “Jalamev Yasya, Balamev Tasya” (One Who Controls the Sea is All Powerful) is truly reflective of the role that she is expected to discharge in furtherance of the nation’s maritime goals.

Crest of INS Viraat
Crest of INS Viraat

The crest of INS Viraat depicts an eagle with five arrows. The eagle symbolizes air power and the five arrows held in the talon represent the ship’s versatile weapon capability. The ship is affiliated to Garhwal Rifles and Scouts, an elite infantry regiment of the Indian Army, since their joint participation in Operation Jupiter.

INS Viraat has a standard displacement of 23,900 tons and a full load displacement of 28,700 tons. The total length of the warship is 226.5 meters and the breadth is 48.78 meters. The ship is manned by 150 officers and 1500 sailors. With such a complement, the ship is like a mini-city complete with attendant logistics infrastructure libraries, gymnasiums, onboard ATM counter, a TV and video studio. A full-fledged hospital and dental centre function onboard to cater to any emergencies. Unlike other ships, the British-built warships areequipped for comfort and convenience for all onboard even in a non-combat mode. INS Viraat is the last ship built by the British serving the Indian Navy.

In 1975, Prince Charles who was then a newly qualified helicopter pilot joined 845 Naval Air Squadron on flying duties from HMS Hermes in Caribbean and Eastern Canadian Waters. INS Viraat has a room inside her named after Prince Charles, where the Prince himself resided at.  A number of photographs showing the glorious history of the warship are proudly exhibited in a place namely ‘Heritage Route’ inside the ship. Unlike all other Indian Navy Ships, INS Viraat has a chapel and graveyard inside the ship, which is a reminiscence of her British military era. Even if the places for worship inside a ship are not common in Indian Navy ships, Navy protects the chapel in a fine way to honour the history.

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Chief of Naval Staff of Indian Navy Admiral Sunil Lamba

Present Chief of Naval Staff of Indian Navy Admiral Sunil Lamba served as an Executive Officer of INS Viraat. Former heads of Indian Navy Admiral (Rtd) Madhavendra Singh, Admiral (Rtd) Arun Prakash, Admiral (Rtd) Nirmal Kumar Verma and Admiral (Rtd) Devendra Kumar Joshi  also served as the Commanding Officer of INS Viraat, which confirms the dominant role of INS Viraat in the history of Indian Navy.

Captain Puneet Chadha is the current Commanding Officer of INS Viraat and he is 22ndImage result for captain puneet chadha Commanding Officer of the historic warship. Captain Chadha expressed his sadness over the decommissioning of the grand old ship but also revealed his pride over the esteemed history of INS Viraat. Naval staffs of INS Viraat also were in grief over the decommissioning of the warship. INS Viraat is commonly referred as the ‘Grand Old Lady’ among naval community.

INS Viraat is committed to helping less privileged sections of our society and contributes to the overall development. The ship regularly organizes blood donation camps, medical camps and visits onboard for school children. In addition, the ship has adopted three destitute children from different parts of the country and looks after their welfare. Naval personnel working in INS Viraat will contribute money for that. A Mumbai based charitable society will take care of these three children after the decommissioning of the ship.

The propeller, rudder and stern tube of INS Viraat has been removed during Essential Repairs and Dry Docking held at Cochin Shipyard which made the towing essential to move the ship back to Mumbai. The Cochin Shipyard Ltd. has been the mending hand of the ship since its Commission. All the dry docking of Viraat has been undertaken only at Kochi and ship has undergone seven SRs and six NRs and the recently concluded ERDD. The final refit of was an emotional experience for shipyard workers who have been working on her for nearly decades now.

Change in technology and the huge maintenance cost made the decommissioning essential for INS Viraat. The future of the warship after decommissioning is yet to be decided by the Government. Both the Indian and British media are enthusiastic on the topic and discussions over the various possibilities have already been started. Suggestions to convert the ship to an aircraft carrier museum, luxury hotel or a resort are in the list. Eastern coastal states are considered to be the ideal place to preserve INS Viraat after the decommissioning.

Final flight of the fighter aircraft Sea Harrier of INS Viraat Vishakhapatanam on February 2016

Flying operations of Sea Harrier aircraft

Final flight of  the commando carrier helicopter SeaKing of INS Viraat

*The author Anila B is an Information Assistant, Press Information Bureau, Cochin.

 

 

Metrology: CSIR-NPL Stands the Test of Time

Hailed as the Time Keeper of India CSIR-NPL, provides the Indian Standard Time (IST), steadfastly promoting Metrology, the science of measurement and its application, and accuracy and precision through the ensuing decades post -Independence.

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National Physical Laboratory: NPL, New Delhi

National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one among the two scientific institutes established in the country under the aegis of CSIR in 1950. Over the years, the NPL also known as the National Measurement Institute of (NMI) India has more than realized its primary mandate as the keeper of measurement standards for the nation while also substantially expanding its research activities to emerge as a leading national institution for research in a whole gamut of areas in the Physical Sciences.

Metrology is one of the key components in improving product quality which in turn affects quality of life. For instance, home appliances have to meet certain specifications in terms of acoustic noise, mechanical dimensions, pressure, electrical voltages and consumption.

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A scientist stands in front of the Microarcsecond Metrology (MAM) testbed.

 

Metrology and calibrated instruments are a must for judging the conformance to specifications. Chemical metrology and physical metrology is essential for controlling the pollutions, similarly it enables biomedical arena. Standards play a key role in Metrology.

CSIR realizing its importance was the first to establish CSIR-NPL- a dedicated laboratory for carrying out metrological activities by establishing apex level standards.

NPL through the government is part of the Metre Convention, a diplomatic treaty which was signed by representatives of 17 countries in Paris in 1875. The treaty created the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).

An intergovernmental organization under the authority of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM).India had signed this treaty in 1957.

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CSIR-NPL has successfully established equivalence with international standards. All other reference and working standards in other laboratories and industries throughout India are required to be traceable to the National Standards of Measurements maintained at the NPL.

The focus area of CSIR-NPL are on metrology arerealization of Base & Derived Units; Apex Level Calibration of physico-mechanical and electrical & electronic standards; and chemical metrology.

Few of the milestones for metrological activities carried out by NPL India include the introduction of the metric system in India ; Law of Weights and Measures promulgated (Re-issued in 1976, 1988), India joining the Meter Convention, ‘Apex Metrology Laboratory’, a highly controlled environment building for apex level measurements in 2015.

Currently CSIR-NPL provides apex calibration of equipments to various industries, strategic, academia and government agencies to the tune of six crore per year which is likely to double over the next five years. Such calibrations at CSIR-NPL are key drivers toImage result for CSIR make in india the growth engine of industries and assumes utmost significance for ensuring the success of “Make in India” mission. Accurate and precise measurements would also support Indian industry and business to innovate. This would require up-gradation of existing calibration facilities at CSIR-NPL, for which work is already underway in full swing.

The main objective of division of apex level calibration at CSIR-NPL is, realization, establishment, custody, maintenance, dissemination and upgradation of the national standards in the field of physico-mechanical and electrical and electronics standards and time and frequency standard.

In India, the research on solar cells is being pursued in various scientific laboratories and industries; however, there is no facility for the validation of solar cell efficiency. CSIR-NPL has taken up an initiative for setting up a ‘National Facility’ for validation of solar cell efficiency with the maximum possible accuracy.

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Similarly, the calibrations of biomedical equipments are essential for correct diagnosis as well as treatment of the patients. This will contribute greatly to the cause of “Swasthya Bharat” mission.

On the environment front, CSIR-NPL has recently developed the 2.5 PPM sampler and it will be first of its kind in India to provide accurate and traceable measurement facility.

CSIR-NPL foresees that the quantum technologies will deliver game-changing applications ranging from faster communications to cancer detection and navigation, which will be vital to improve lives and creation of new businesses.  CSIR-NPL is gearing up its existing “Quantum Metrology” laboratory that will provide world-class measurement expertise to validate the new quantum technologies and secure the India’s position in this emerging field “Sashakt  Bharat”.

Many government and semi-government as well private sector entities have benefitted from CSIR-NPL’s support, advices and calibrations. These include Air Force, Air India, Bharat Electronics , BHEL; Bhilai Steel Plant; Bureau of Indian Standards, Defense Electronics Applications Laboratory and several prominent private sector companies.csir

*This Feature has been received from CSIR (Unit for Science Dissemination), Ministry of Science & Technology, New Delhi.

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