Having a conversation with a person sitting next to me on the airplane is my most favorite part of taking an airplane ride. Like usual, I had a conversation with a woman sitting next to me on the way coming to India from Thailand. She was an amazing woman who worked not only in a semiconductor company, but also in her own start-up company. We talked about diverse topics including career, personal vision, and cultural differences. When I explained my reason for visiting India, she talked about the Clean India Campaign. Through this blog, I would like to talk about how the Clean India Campaign is changing India.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ("Clean India Campaign") is a movement focused on sanitation and hygiene issues launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014. It has emphasized building about 80 million toilets in 4 years. It has also encouraged the citizens to participate in cleaning the streets.
Is it possible to empty a place full of garbage cleanly? This is a question that I had before coming to India. Last quarter, Julian showed one picture of India, with people walking on a street full of waste. He asked us what we observed from the picture and our insights on the observations. I assumed that there would still be people who would dump waste even after cleaning the area because it is just so difficult to change human behavior.
When I came out of the street for the first time in India, I could easily find the bad-smelling places covered with waste. However, the street, in general, was clean with people sweeping the roads every day and trucks transporting the collected waste. Meeting people from Hasiru Dala and Saahas working on waste management has made me rethink my question.
A woman working in Hasiru Dala shared a story of cleaning a space that used to be full of waste. It was a large and clean area that 30 people could stand and talk. She added that it took about three months to clean the area, including monitoring people to not to throw the waste there. However, the place became waste-free after three months.
Through these episodes, I have learned that although it may need external forces to change human behavior, it is still possible. As I mentioned in the first blog, I used to feel helpless in the face of complicated and huge challenges. However, it is still possible to make the things happened that I have dreamed of. Recently I started to work with my GCIL organization. With the strong support of the organization, I expect myself to come up with the solution of grand challenges after 7 weeks.
The Clean India Campaign sign at the Karnataka State Cricket Association Club