Hindus, who compromise the majority of our country, are a weird people.
One of the underlying tenets of Hinduism is the concept of purity. The entire caste system is based on that concept. The people of higher castes are supposed to be “twice born” or have earned merit in previous births and so are more pure than the others. Following the same logic the lowest castes are the most impure.
I have seen countless women suffer various forms of OCD (not diagnosed by a doctor, because – the horror ! – why go to a doc when you’re just being very clean?) which stems from this urge to be clean and pure. All that touches the impure also becomes impure so it’s easy to see where that leads.
The excreta of the body too is part of the impurity. So anything related to excretion is dirty, impure. It is the reason people go to the fields while constructed toilets in homes lie unused. Or that horror of humanity, the dry latrines located at the backs of homes, in which people defecate and leave their shit for others, “low caste” people to carry and dispose of it.
All our sanitation drives are failing, because of these long held beliefs. If we don’t try to work at the roots, of trying to change these mind sets, I assure you we will not go far.
And the stupid symbolism of trying to start a cleaning drive at Valmiki Nagar, home to “safai karmacharis” most of whom belong to the lower castes. What does that imply? What are we trying to achieve here? Reinforcing Hindu upper caste privilege and reminding those people you are fit for nothing but cleaning our scum? Swachh Bharat will not be built by hashtags alone, Mr. Prime Minister!