Govt to drive Swachh message through Amar Chitra Katha
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