Cleanliness means modetical or thoroughly neat and clean, properly arranged, rightly maintained and managed well thereafter. Here neat and clean means bereft of any impurity or contamination or adulteration of any sort. A cursory look on the neat and tidy place pleases us immensely which proves the dictum; cleanliness is next to godliness. It goes to show that swachchta or cleanliness is not merely which is seen to be believed but also which has innate beauty. Cleanliness has innate beauty since its end-results are simplicity and humility besides  other positive traits. Neatness and cleanness are two terms which could be used for untainted or unsullied purity.


It is essential that this purity should, first of all, start from our body. This is possible if we take proper diet, do suitable exercise to keep all the parts of our body functional besides making our body immune to any germs. If we do not keep our body clean and healthy, we shall not be able to perform various tasks in our day to day lives. If we are bodily vigorous, we shall be psychologically/emotionally; strong to face any contingencies which may arise. The emotional stability or strength is of prime importance for positive habit/attitude formation. All these functions could be performed meaningfully and steadily and surely when there is harmony between our body and mind (physiological and psychological coordination). For this to happen, we have to keep our body neat and clean besides functional for meeting the onslaughts of daily lives with utmost grace and confidence.

In the Bhagwat Gita, observance of cleanliness (of body and mind) has been given huge significance besides simplicity, celibacy and non-violence. In order to keep the body and mind clear off any smut, austerity is of prime importance lest we fall prey to egotistic tendencies. Cleanliness dwells in our mind. If our mind is cleansed off the filth then we can utilize all the five senses wisely for the benefit of body, mind and soul.


The need of writing this blog came to my mind while I was cleaning up the surroundings of my home. My neighbor threw a bagful of wastes from the household on the street thus spreading the dirty filth on the street. As I was having the broom, I cleaned up the litter. The lady in question who threw that bagful of refuse learned her lesson or not, I am not aware but I have continued cleaning the surrounding of my home. Not only this, some people are in the habit of keeping their two-wheelers on the two sides of the narrow lanes just letting the wastes thrown away from the households below these vehicles. This goes to show that till such time we are serious in keeping our surroundings clean, real swachhta or cleanliness will not be possible. It will remain a unrealized dream, staring large on our faces.  


We all are aware that in the metropolitan cities and towns, MCD staff work on daily basis and cleans up the lanes and by-lanes. What about the cleanliness In rural India? I can talk about rural cleanliness since I am from a rural background. The villagers dispose off their household litter along with the dung and other wastes in their fields which act as manure for their crops. As far as the cleanliness of houses and surroundings is concerned, it is done by the housewives in the morning hours itself regularly. Village Panchyat chips in to ensure that the community halls and Panchayat Ghars are cleaned up on daily basis on volunteer basis or outsourcing the cleanliness drive through voluntarily contributions from the villagers or funds provided by the state governments. In addition to this, the plants and green crops present healthy environments in our villages.

The matter of immense concern, even presently, is lack of toilet facilities in all the houses in villages, in the absence of which people are constrained to go to the fields for open defecation. But due to the Government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, by way of  financing and also through awareness campaign through village panchayats etc, there are many villages in which toilets have been constructed and being used. Still more needs to be done in the form of general responsiveness from some of the village dwellers. In the days to come, I am sure, things will improve and our villages would be clean, green and pollution free with toilet facilities in all the homes. If the dream of having toilets in every household is guaranteed even in far flung village, it would be a big relief to the women folks in our villages.


There is a well-known saying; ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’. It is evidently aesthetic beauty – a thought which explores the nature of an art, sense of beauty, the liking and also related to the appreciation of the beauty. This beauty could be reflected through our thoughts and actions. This could be beauty of mind, emotions and the beauty of surroundings in which we are living. Here, the beauty is exemplified by the love of beauty and its importance in our life. The love is all encompassing which brings about compassion and understanding. This understanding makes it possible to live in God oriented existence, a beautiful existence indeed – bereft of any doubt or skepticism. Such is the exquisiteness of swachchta.


We also know that in our houses, the lady of the house ensures that all things are kept in orderly way and there all the litter is cleared from the house. But it should be ensured that not only the girls but the boys too are given lesson in keeping our home and our surrounding neat and tidy. Swachchta or tidiness, neatness, trimness or orderliness in keeping neat should be made a campaign and it ought to be inclusive in nature. Diligence in keeping neat and clean means meticulous or strict regime of discipline in keeping ourselves and surroundings neat and tidy. This cleanliness campaign has to be made a attractive movement which possesses its magnetism and its idea spreads from one to all without distinction. So elevating in spirit!


Swachh Bharat Abhyiyan or Clean India Mission is the one which deals with cleaning up every nook and corner of our cities, towns and villages. In this, not merely the Government of India; which has made it a campaign to realize the dream of cleanliness in whole of the country a reality; the participation of general masses should also be ensured. This campaign got started on 2nd October 2014 at Rajghat, New Delhi by PM Narindra Modi. More importance is being given to eliminate open-defecation; which I think should be done on a war footing, especially in rural and also semi-urban areas in India. Here not only the construction of the toilets is being prioritized but also maintenance of these too should be taken care.

In this context, the work is in progress. For this, millions of toilets are being constructed in rural areas and for this, huge monitory outlay by the Government has been made. Sure enough, results would be far more encouraging since information to the general masses by way of advertisements in the social media, even taking the services of film icons like Amitabh Bachachn and others for publicity in this direction. Real-time monitoring of this campaign is required so that wherever loopholes are found, these could be plugged by taking course correction to make cleanliness a successful exercise.

It is incumbent on all of us; be it government officials, students besides people from all walks of lives to come forward voluntarily and make the cleanliness drive a successful story.  The Government of India has assigned the task of cleanliness in rural and urban areas to two ministries (Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation including Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs) to make this campaign successful and not remain paper oriented. The Swachch Bharat mission taken up by the Government has obviously done much for ensuring that tasks undertaken for realizing its dream get fructified.

It is relevant to make the campaign of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan exercise a successful by following points:-

(a) People should dispose off the wastes from their houses either in the municipality van or put the same in the waste-bin kept for the purpose on daily basis.

(b) The municipal van should ensure that the collected wastes are kept at a central place to be transported for further disposal on daily basis. Sometimes, this waste-filth is not cleared, making the environs more unhygienic/germ-infested and polluted – a breeding place for flies and mosquitoes. This becomes a cause for mosquito related diseases like zika virus, malaria, chikungunya, dengue fever, yellow fever etc. Here the responsibility lies with the city Municipality.

(c)  Sweeping by the Safaiaramcharis (sweepers) should be ensured on daily basis.

(d) We have observed that there are not sufficient toilets/urinals due to which general masses seek any place for their natural calls. More urinals/toilets, at least for urination (separate for both for ladies and gents) should be constructed especially near the bus stops to avoid urination in the open making the place unhygienic and smelly and these urinals should be cleaned up on daily basis.

(e)  All the agencies working for cleanliness should function in tandem for ensuring its success like what happened in the capital Delhi wherein the MCD staff struck work and the piles of garbage remained at the collection centre for days on ends bringing in its wake various dangerous diseases.  In such contingencies, the Central Government should intervene to solve the pestering issues for the wellbeing of the general populace.

(f)   In rural India, the village punchayats (Sarpachs, Lambardars and other members) should play their part in educating the rural masses for a need to keep our houses (including our toilets) and its surroundings neat and clean. Construction of toilets in each home should be ensured.

(g)  Not throwing the household wastes on the streets but should be disposed off into the MCD van which commutes routinely. Or the household wastes could be put in the dustbin kept at the vintage points which are cleaned up by the MCD staff daily.

In sum, it could be concluded that if we want that our body and mind function in cohesion, it is important that we keep ourselves neat and clean and experiment the dictum: The cleanliness is next to the Godliness. This will also help us to be spiritually inclined to face all emergent unforeseen events head-on.  


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    1. This is an important post, Harbans. Even here, in our beautiful New Forest, people think it is OK to fly tip; to toss rubbish out of car windows; and to empty their dogs on the moors, or in one instance in a garden centre car park. We wonder what is in their minds

  1. I think this is a good and important topic. Thank you for posting, as I learned some new things as well. My Rotary club back in my home state has had a campaign for several years in which they go to build toilets in rural villages in India. This is the main project of the club, and one of the club members, Manish Mehta, is the head of the project as he and his family immigrated here to the US from India. I feel even more glad to have been involved in this project for the years I was in the club after reading this blog. The types of toilets they built are also able to turn waste into energy/electricity for these rural villages. I appreciate that you take it on yourself to contribute the the cleanliness of the area outside your home and at least try to set a good example for neighbors. We must all take up such practices to do what is right and good for the sake of it being right and good and not for the recognition of others.

    1. Thank you very much for appraising the write-up in its entirety and giving your most valuable comments. Cleanliness is really of great importance in our lives.

  2. Dear Harbans: good afternoon and thanks for this excellent article about an issue that tends to be mischeviously sidelined in our filth-filled consumerist society in order “not to offend susceptible minds.” But who is guarding the integrity of our minds when we, and worse our children, are being continually exposed to so much moral and spiritual debasement? Forget “political correctness” and let’s talk straight like you always do my dear friend. A big virtual hug. Arrivederci!

    1. Dr. Arrivederci! sahib good afternoon to you too. I thank you for giving your invaluable comments on my write-up. In India, previously, cleanliness was not given so importance as has been given by the current dispensation – this is a whiff of fresh air. We should not sweep this topic under the carpet. Now coming to moral and spiritual debasement; these negative traits are the product of negative mindset and till such time these thoughts are obliterated and our thoughts refined; then, sure enough, cleanliness actually start from our own self. A big hug to you too. Regards. Harbans

      1. My dear ftiend, please do not forget to mention the pernicious effects of so many decades of nefarious British colonialism that sought to keep cleanliness only in their well guarded city enclaves while they ignored the sanitary deficiencies of the subjugated populations. Talk about hypocrisy…Very sad. I just published a peer-reviewed article about tbe Transgender with Dr. Vijay Chattu, an Indian doctor working in Trinidad Tobago. Yesterday I put an article on the subject of Transitioning.Can you put a comment with a few words telling us about the Khota in India? Thanks. Arrivederci!

      2. Dr. Sahib, British Raj in India is now a history. The sooner we want to forget that period the better it would be. It is good that you have penned down a write-up on Transgenders with Dr. Vijay Chattu. It must be a well researched and informative one. I shall be reading it. Thanks. Harbans

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