Centre falls back on mythology to help clean Ganga
What does it take to clean the Ganga? People’s participation, according to the government, and, a heavy discourse on the divine origin of the river that sustains 46% of population.
A handbook on the river brought out by the Centre draws heavily from Hindu mythology, apparently turning the exercise of cleaning the river into a sermon. The government is spending Rs20,000 crore over the next few years to clean the 2,525 km-long river.
Here are some samples from the book, published by the National Literacy Mission Authority under the human resource development (HRD) ministry: When a person on death bed drinks ‘Gangajal’, it reduces his pain, gives “peace” to the soul after death, and brings “moksha” (salvation), says the book titled ‘Ganga Rahi Pukaar’.
“Think of how much ‘tapasya’ our ancestors did to bring Ganga to Earth!”, it says, giving a detailed account of the mythical fight between “devtas” and “daityas” and the role of Lord Shiva in the exercise. Characters from villages tell stories — largely mythical — about Ganga and “bacteria-killing” quality of the river and its curative properties.
About 10,000 copies have been distributed for trainers of the adult education programme, gram panchayats and volunteers.
“The idea is to ensure villagers take ownership of the river. The stories in the book are meant to not only educate but hold their interest too. A committee with representation from all religions was formed for the content of the book,” said a senior HRD official, rejecting any religious slant in the book.