I wish all the fellow Indians a very happy 70th Independence Day. Indeed it is a matter of pride for every Indian to celebrate the day for which many people sacrificed their lives or lived under atrocities of their foreign masters. Freedom is a gift given to the present generation for which we should ever be thankful. We have come a long way since the day we gained our freedom and has taken many independent decisions towards the development of our country. However, I still like to question sometimes that are we really free?
Even after 70 years of Independence are we free enough to question our government or a national party without being harassed in one of other way, to press freely without being bought by a political party, to follow and express our religious faith, to eat whatever we like without offending or told by people of other faith and to demand execution of government proceedings without bribery. A bigger question of all would be does this definition of freedom also includes people from lower economic background and women. Women are probably deprived of most of the rights that men enjoy freely in all strata of life. Looking from a womens perspectives in India, it probably doesn’t make any difference if she is under a foreign rule or not since she is in slavery of her family or domestic masters even after her country has gained independence.
Celebrating Independence day should not just be feeling proud upon the fact that our leaders made the foreigners run away but also to ponder over the salient issues of injustice, inequality, religious bigotry, poverty and growing corruption in the government offices. We could only be truly free if we consider ourselves not just to be free physically but also mentally. Our thinking needs to change and it is only by the change in our thinking that we would ever be able to gain our true freedom.
I have been chauffeuring my mother and two of her colleagues from and to her work today and caught in between of women’s chit chat on several occasions. Among all the womanly gibberish there were some concerning and interesting elements that caught my attention. Most concerning was that many hospitals both private and public have sprung in our city and none of them seem to be empty due to lack of sick people. On the other hand most of them are over crowded and sometimes patients are on the waiting list to be seen. For a country like India it is a good thing that we have an increasing number of hospitals to take care of our people, but it is also a matter of great concern that so many people are still getting ill inspite of all the advancement in health care and clean India movement run by the government.
Some of the reasons that I could think of concerning the health of the Indian people are lack of awareness about health and hygiene, food adulteration, increasing mental stress to cope up with the lifestyle of a growing economy and lack of physical exercise. Of these I think the most concerning are food adulteration and lack of awareness about the hygiene.
I have traveled many places in India and I have never seen a clean public toilet that is maintained by the government. In many places including my city even the private malls do not have clean toilets. Sometimes it feels like that our benchmark for a clean toilet is so low that no matter how much of cleaning is done it is still dirtier as compared to toilets anywhere else in the developed world. Government of India has launched Swach Bharat abhiyan to promote use of toilets and hygiene in the country. However, a turn around change would only be possible when common people understand the importance of hygiene in the context of herd immunity. It doesn’t matter how strong your immunity is, if your neighborhood is weak in collective immunity, then you are more prone to falling ill as compared to the person whose own immunity is low, but lives in a stronger herd. We also have to improve our thinking regarding the importance of constructing good toilet setups at our home. In most of Indian homes toilets are the last place that people allocate the space for while designing their houses. In many homes it is not surprising to find toilets below the stair case or outside in the veranda under a shed or the smallest place possible in the house. To be honest it doesn’t matter how big or small is your toilet as far as it is clean, but it does show the temperament of the people towards hygiene.
We will be celebrating our 70th Independence day tomorrow and even after becoming 70 years old we are still teaching people the basics of health and hygiene. We still do not have any understanding of throwing rubbish in the bins or how to segregate rubbish into wet and dry waste. If you ever go to an old crowded parts of Indian cities you will find people throwing rubbish from their balconies on the street, thinking that their job is done and now it’s government’s problem.
To add up to growing waste management and hygiene issues the current government is all about putting cows on the alter. So many cows on the street littering wherever possible is another nuisance. Hindu people believe in the holiness of cows and therefore anything that comes out of a cow is either holy in itself or has therapeutic value, for example drinking cow piss can get rid of stomach related ailments or rubbing it on a wound or skin allergy can heal it. Many of the Ayurvedic medicines have cow piss as an active ingredient.
Indeed it is proud to think that we are advancing in medical sciences, but having more hospitals does not only shows our advancement but also shows the state of our health. Hence, the more number of hospitals in your city is directly proportional to the more number of sick people your city is generating. The underline cause of the illness is not the lack of medical facility but the lack of hygiene. And in the end we always need to think about our immunity as a fraction of the herd we are part of.