Govt to drive Swachh mes­sage through Amar Chi­tra Katha

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - NATION - Moushumi Das Gupta

NEW DELHI: The govern­ment has dug deep into an­cient Hindu texts such as the Manusm­riti, which sets the caste code in so­ci­ety, to bol­ster the pub­lic­ity cam­paign for its sig­na­ture Swachh Bharat clean­li­ness drive.

These form an il­lus­trated book, de­signed by the mak­ers of the iconic Amar Chi­tra Katha car­toon se­ries, and meant for a young au­di­ence to drive home the mes­sage of mak­ing In­dia free of open defe­ca­tion by 2019.

The Union ur­ban de­vel­op­ment min­istry has come out with a comic book, The Clean Rev­o­lu­tion, in the run-up to Oc­to­ber 2, the sec­ond an­niver­sary of the Swachh Bharat Mis­sion launched by Modi. Ur­ban de­vel­op­ment minister M Venka­iah Naidu will re­lease the book on Fri­day.

The book nar­rates how from the In­dus Val­ley civ­i­liza­tion some 2,500 years ago to an­cient Hindu scrip­tures such as the Vedas, all talked about the im­por­tance of san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene.

One story men­tions how the Manusm­riti tells peo­ple to main­tain per­sonal hy­giene. The il­lus­tra­tion also shows how peo ple were di­vided into castes and “one par­tic­u­lar caste was tasked with clean­ing toi­lets and sewage drains”.

That’s an in­fer­ence to man­ual scav­eng­ing — a eu­phemism for dis­pos­ing of hu­man exc­reta by hand. This is an age-old occu pa­tion tra­di­tion­ally foisted on mem­bers of low-caste or Dalit groups, though In­dia banned caste-based dis­crim­i­na­tion in 1955 and passed sev­eral laws to end the prac­tice.

The book will be dis­trib­uted to Ken­driya Vidyalayas, CBSE af­fil­i­ated schools and those run by state gov­ern­ments to cre­ate aware­ness among chil­dren as a mas­sive pub­lic­ity drive hasn’t shaken up peo­ple’s at­ti­tude to­wards san­i­ta­tion.

M Venka­iah Naidu

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