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Swachh Bharat ?

By: Ranjita Biswas

Swachh Bharat ?
Scene 1: A reputed university in Kolkata known for its student community with liberal views. Whenever the occasion rises they go out protesting against any injustice, perceived or real. You go to the campus and find colourful posters all around with a young crowd in groups talking nineteen to the dozen, discussing world politics to local ones. They sit around sipping a coffee or a Coke, some throw rings in the air from their cigarettes. On way to attend a seminar in a hall, you look at their animated faces and miss your college days.

Seminar over, you cross the same way where  the students were lolling around happily earlier and find empty cups, cigarette ash littering at the entrance to the hall where visiting professors from home and abroad come.

 

Perhaps the young students who come from middle class or well-to-do homes, boys and girls, didn’t have time or intention to pick up the litter they have created? It’s none of your business to point it out as a visitor? It’s only the lower class people who are an obstruction to the Clean India movement? 

 

Scene 2:  A latest model car drives down the posh locality. Then it suddenly stops without warning or honking making you jump aside. Oh, there’s the kiosk selling munchies and soft drinks, that’s why they have stopped, you realise.  The driver gets down to put the order  while  inside the car a young boy has his eyes glued on his smart phone playing some game and  ‘memsa’eb’ – his mother-  chats loudly over the expensive  cell phone planning a shopping spree next day, with some friend perhaps.

 

The coke comes as also packet of munchies. The job done, of drinking and eating, mother and son throw the plastic bottle and cellophane wrapper out of the window of the car and whish away. 

“Cleanliness is next to godliness”, probably the boy, an ‘English-medium’ school student obviously, would soon write an essay as a home work task guided by the mother. 

 

Scene 3: The maid walks jauntily in front of you with a plastic packet of wilting  flowers in one hand and in the other  some kitchen left-overs. As she walks hurriedly she nonchalantly throws  the packets in the space dividing the road for up- and- down traffic in the so-called planned township within chaotic Kolkata.

 

You accost her, “Why did you do that? Doesn’t the garbage collector come to your place in the morning? Ours does.”

 

She looks a bit nonplussed that somebody challenges her. Then sheepishly points to huge modern building opposite and says “He does but boudi , lady of the house, asked me to.” You look up and see a ‘lady’ disappearing from the balcony of the second floor.

 

Public place and private place – there is a difference you see!