Posts Tagged ‘Prime Minister’


This blog is a bit about crap – literally. The other day I read that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a failure. Why? I have no clue. Is it because Indians, in general, hate being told to maintain cleanliness? Or is it because, those believe that wallowing in filth and dirt is a way of life, just find it too much of an effort to change?

Let me give you example. I once lived in a housing society where my neighbour who lived directly above me had a leaking toilet which was messing up my ceiling. I asked him to repair it, but he refused saying it was my problem since it was my ceiling that was being messed up! I even offered to fund half the repairs but his answer remained unchanged. Finally after years of waiting and watching my ceiling deteriorate, I went up to his flat with a plumber. What I saw made my bile rise. I come from Bhagalpur, a small town in Bihar, where in the days when I was a kid, you squatted on a toilet seat which had a hole you defecated into. Your crap fell into a pot a few feet below which was cleaned daily by a woman who pulled out the pot and emptied it into a bigger pot to be taken away and emptied into some drain. Does reading this make you throw up? Well, that is how I felt when I saw the neighbour’s toilet.

My first thought was, how does he or others in his family even step into the place first thing in the morning, and every time after that? In utter disgust, I paid to get a new toilet bowl for him and also paid for all the repairs and waterproofing. But the dirty truth is he preferred to wallow in the filth rather than repair his toilet bowl – just for a few thousand rupees. This is why I say we Indians are dirty.

Take the way we spit anywhere and everywhere. Does it take the prime minister of the country to tell us that we should not spit in public places? And this has nothing to do with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Sometime in the 1980s I was seeing off a female friend at the Pune railway station. She was travelling home to Hyderabad. As we waited for the Secunderabad Express to arrive she watched very impassively as a couple of men standing a few feet away kept spitting on the tracks every few seconds. It wasn’t as if they were chewing paan or tobacco. They were just spitting for no rhyme or reason. When she couldn’t control herself any longer, she walked up to them and said, “Can you stop spitting? And if you can’t, please move away?”

I wasn’t surprised, because I knew she was one of those who didn’t believe in keeping quiet if she felt strongly about something. When she returned she said exasperatedly, “I come from Hyderabad, so people spitting around me isn’t anything new, but you guys in Pune take it to an altogether different level.”

So when I read that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has failed I am not surprised at all. We just don’t like being told that we should maintain cleanliness. We come out with a whole host of reasons why it is wrong and when that fails we ridicule the prime minister and his request. We ridicule him for spending public money without asking ourselves the one fundamental question. Would he be spending this money if we just took the effort to maintain cleanliness? I mean, people have a problem with the fact that the government is building toilets. This is so typically Indian. It’s just like the crash helmet rule or any other rule we are asked to follow. We’ll dredge out of the muck a hundred reasons on why they cannot follow it. Of course, there is also the point that previous governments have not bothered about ensuring basic sanitation in the villages, building adequate toilets and ensuring water supply to these toilets. But let’s leave that for another day.

Presently, I live in a supposedly upmarket locality where people throw garbage over the walls of the housing societies. Well-meaning groups have been advising residents of the area not to dump their garbage anywhere but does that help? The civic body asked people to segregate their garbage but even their people have a problem. Have they given a thought to the conservancy staff that carries that garbage to the dump yard? Well, that’s not their problem. So we’ll criticise civic body for not sending the truck that does now show up to pick up the rubbish, but have no problem throwing it out of our balconies to keep our homes clean.

So, why is the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan failing? I think it is because the people of India are a filthy lot who expect the prime minister to ensure cleanliness for them, while they party and dirty the place.


No better day than this for a few thoughts on the state of the nation and where we are headed. Sixty-one years after India became a Republic it’s on the brink of disarray. There is no government worth its name. Politicians, hoodlums and so-called Maoists are generally running crooked parallel governments everywhere in the country. We have a prime minister who seems to suffer from a form of paralysis and who no one listens to anyway. Are we on our way to becoming, what some industry captains have referred to as a banana republic?

The finance minister says it would be ‘difficult’ to reveal the names of corrupt Indians who have Swiss bank accounts. Why, are they friends of his, or is he protecting someone? We also hear the Prime Minister saying that it’s next to impossible to check the influx of black money. Is that because politicians and ministers in his cabinet are the biggest culprits? A journalist friend tells me about a well-known and extremely corrupt cabinet minister who has done the next best thing – he’s bought a bank somewhere abroad, so he can stash away his loot!

Here’s an interesting nugget I picked up off a site about Indian black money in Swiss banks.

India—- $1456 billion
Russia—$ 470 billion
UK——$390 billion
Ukraine–$100 billion
China—-$ 96 billion

Mind-boggling? According to this website, the amount is enough to put Rs 50,000 in the hand of every Indian and still have enough left to pay off all foreign debt and account for the annual budget!

So the gap is widening and the anger and frustration building between the have and have not. When you drive past any of the crowded intersections in the city have you noticed a huge group of people milling around or standing in a queue? This is India’s daily wage worker waiting for his employer of the day. He gets paid a paltry 20 or 30 rupees (or is that too much?) for putting in twelve hours of work in a day, so he can feed his wife and kids.

Why does he have a wife and kids when he can’t even afford to feed himself? Because he got married in the village at a young age and then suddenly the village is too poor to support even his meagre needs. So he migrates to the city with the hope that it will rescue him from the poverty he faces. Only here, he is still leading a hand-to-mouth existence because the 30-odd bucks he makes won’t even buy him a kg of onions. And while the nameless daily wager struggles to make ends meet, there are people making money through illegal means like there’s no tomorrow.

Is this what our leaders have conditioned us to do these past 61 years? I once asked a few youngsters from a small town in UP this question: Why do you want to become an IAS officer? The answers: ‘I want to make money‘ and ‘I’ll get a huge amount of dowry‘. Do you wonder who they are emulating and can you blame them?

I am supposed to get a substantial refund on my Tax Returns for the past two years from the income tax department. My tax consultant advises me to pay the 10 per cent in cash to the I-T officer, if I want my refund. And don’t bother complaining. According to the rule, if any Income-tax officer is found to have delayed submission of refund cheques it can be deducted from his annual increment. But does it bother too many of them? Incidentally, the status of tax returns can now be checked online and once online, the I-T dept must submit the cheque to the bank. So I go online to check the status which says, “Your assessing officer has not sent the refund cheque to the banker.” Why hasn’t my cheque been sent to my banker when it is ready and they have my account number? Take a good guess.

Yesterday, an honest assistant collector was set ablaze in Manmad because he tried to take on the oil mafia. Will the culprits be punished? Who controls the oil mafia? Your guess is as good as mine. This is the India we live in after 61 years. Happy Republic Day, is it?