Cleanliness – a way of life

“When there is both inner and outer cleanliness, it approached godliness.”

-Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi


Before proceeding with the topic, let us first understand the definition of ‘Cleanliness’ from the above statement of Father of our Nation. It may be defined as a state of ‘being clean’ both from inner clutters as well as maintaining a clean and fresh surrounding both at dwelling place and workplace.

Cleanliness in Indian context is not a new concept. As per our Vedic Scriptures, it is quite evident that the prosperous Indian Civilizations were well aware of the benefits of cleanliness. Right from Harappa Civilization to the Aryan Civilization, ‘cleanliness’ was a way of life. But with external aggression and foreign rules, we lost our culture and tradition with a departure from our Vedic way of life. After achieving independence, India was in a shabby condition as far as cleanliness and sanitation are concerned. But slowly various governments understood the importance of cleanliness as it is the window through which outside world sees us and forms opinion about our nation. Our government has taken up this challenge in mission mode as ‘Swachh Bharat Mission”.

History of Swachhta Pakhwada:[1]

Swachhta Pakhwada was Started in April 2016, with the objective of bringing a fortnight of intense focus on issues and practices of the Swachhta by engaging all the government ministries & departments in their jurisdictions. In order to plan the Pakhwada activities, an annual calendar is circulated among the Ministries in advanced. Ministries that observe Swachhata Pakhwada are monitored by means of online monitoring system of Swachhata Samiksha. On this system, action plans, images & videos related to Swachhata activities are uploaded and shared.


This is an environment awareness campaign launched under Swachh Bharat Mission. It was launched to achieve the goal of total sanitizations and cleanliness by October 2, 2019. Under the campaign, several ministries organise a theme wise campaign called “Swachh Bharat Fortnight”. It is a voluntary exercise and it seeks to raise awareness and target programmes.


Swachh Bharat Mission SBM is a country-wide campaign that was initiated by central government in 2014 with the objective of eliminating open defecation and improving solid waste management. This mission is a restructured version of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan which was launched in 2009. Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan failed to achieve its intended targets. Phase 1 of the Swachh Bharat mission ended in October 2019 while Phase 2 of the mission has been implemented between 2020–21 & 2024-25.


Why Cleanliness is necessary:

Let us now discuss the necessity of cleanliness. A clean surrounding provides us a sense of positive vibe and fills us with positive energy. We can imagine the difference between staying in a stinky-dirty area and staying in a clean environment. With bodily cleanliness and a neat surrounding, we also need mental cleansing. A clutter free mind can provide us a clear vision of life, work and elevate our personality in toto. If we can clean the mental junk, then our mind will start processing higher purposes of life. We can focus and concentrate more in all the areas of our lives. In this tech savvy age, maintaining a clean mind with clarity in vision also comes under the necessity of cleanliness.

Benefits of making cleanliness as a way of life:

“Sanitation and cleanliness are among the humblest of the civic virtues, and it is easy to underestimate their significance.”

–       President of India Shri Ramnath Kovind


a)      Physical hygiene:

‘A healthy mind resides in a healthy body’ goes the saying. And how can one achieve a healthy body? By following cleanliness practices. If we care for our physical hygiene, we can keep ourselves away from germs which have the potential to cause disease and can lead a healthy life. Unless we take care of our physical hygiene, we may contract various diseases as an uncleaned body is a breeding ground for various types of germs. The recent out break of COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of maintaining physical hygiene for the wellbeing of our own selves as well as our companions. This has now become a social responsibility.


b)      Clean house:

Our dwelling place needs to be neat and clean. A clean house with only the required household items in it creates a good atmosphere to lead a quality life. A rule of thumb may be applied to clean up the unwanted items in our houses. If we have not used something for a period of about one year, there is a high probability that we will not use the same in future. In this method we can segregate the unwanted items from the wanted ones to a lot of extent.


A clean house does not necessarily mean a lavishly decorated house. It may be a simple one, but with a neat arrangement of the items in it. A house free of cobwebs, dirt etc. has greatly reduced negative energy which has been scientifically established. It improves the physical and mental wellbeing of the dwellers. That is why, ancient India used to clean house every morning with water or cow dung water which acted as a disinfectant.


c)      Clean surroundings:

Along with a clean house, we need to ensure a clean surrounding. We should not throw garbage in our surroundings as it will cause problems for us as well as for our neighbours and the society at large. And we are a part of the society. Throwing banana peels, empty packs of packaged food on the road etc should be avoided and garbage should be disposed at the designated garbage bins to maintain a neat and clean surrounding.


d)      Clean Workplace:

For the working class people, cleanliness at workplace is an important feature. Putting all the relevant documents in a neatly labelled folder saves a lot of time and promotes good work culture. Regular cleaning of various files and work area helps in clearing pile up of unwanted papers. Prompt clearing of Inbox and Outbox makes the workplace a lot easier to handle rather than a messy pile of unmanaged paper heap. ‘Clean Desktop’ policy is a good practice to follow. Any sensitive information should not be available on the desktop screen to have a niche higher security measure as well as keeping the desktop screen clean.


e)      Clean Mind:

This aspect of cleanliness is very less understood and even lesser practiced. In the current tech age, we are bombarded with huge amount of information. But we should be wise enough to segregate the required information from the undesired noise. Mostly we get carried away by the social media status of our peers. In the process we forget the privileges we have been bestowed with. Instead of offering gratitude to the universe, we start whining for what we do not have. It starts messing up our mind. It is a kind of mental garbage.

We should try to sow seeds of positive thoughts in our minds to reap positive outcomes. Negative emotions and thoughts are like dirt deposited in our mind which impedes our progress. Spending some time in a day in solitude, meditating and having faith in the universal power will help us bring back our focus and will fill up with positive energy. It will improve our problem-solving ability and power us to take on various challenges of life. A clean mind does not have any place for corruption.

Steps taken by govt to promote cleanliness and achievements:[2]

Swachh Survekshan, commissioned by Ministry of Urban Development and carried out by Quality Council of India, is an extensive sanitation survey across several hundred cities to check the progress and impact of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and to foster a spirit of competition among the cities. The performance of each city is evaluated on six parameters:

·         Municipal solid waste, sweeping, collection and transportation

·         Municipal solid waste, processing, and disposal of solid waste

·         Open defecation free and toilets

·         Capacity building and eLearning

·         Provision of public toilets and community toilets

·         Information, education and communication, and behavior change


According to the dashboards maintained by respective ministries, more than 100 million individual household level toilets have been constructed in rural areas, and 6 million household toilets in urban areas. In addition, nearly 6 million community and public toilets have also been constructed in the urban areas. Consequently, 4,234 cities and more than 600,000 villages across the country have declared themselves open defecation free (ODF).

More than 81.5 thousand wards in urban areas now have 100% door to door collection of solid waste and nearly 65 thousand wards practice 100% segregation of waste at source. Of the nearly 150 thousand metric tonnes of solid waste generated in urban areas, 65% is being processed.

According to UNICEF, the number of people without a toilet reduced from 550 million to 50 million. The World Bank reports that 96% of Indians who have a toilet use it. World Health Organization (WHO) has in its report stated that at least 180,000 diarrhoeal deaths were averted in rural India since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission. According to a survey carried out in 2018 and published in 2019 by National Statistical Office (NSO), 71% of rural households had access to toilets as of 2018.

Data from the National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) demonstrate the increase in access to improved sanitation due to SBM. Post 2015, 3.4% households gained access to better sanitation as compared to just 1.5% earlier.



The above data shows the impact of cleanliness, and how it can project the image of a nation in the international arena. On this occasion of Swachhta Pakhwada 2022, let us all vow to make cleanliness a way of life and practice the same everyday and not on this fortnight only. Let us clean the window through the world sees us and propound the following statement of our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi

“I come from a poor family; I have seen poverty. The poor need respect, and it begins with cleanliness.”

Jai Hind



[1] & [2]: Data taken from Wikipedia