Is India Beautiful?

December 4, 2014

As an educator and expatriate, while working in a desert island country called Bahrain, a question haunted me for long - what do foreigners think of India and Indians?

While the Indian scientists and doctors in the US makes noteworthy contributions in their field, there are at least 8 Indians who have adorned the CEO positions in the US. David Cameron, Prime Minister of UK recently predicted that the future prime minister of the UK could be an Indian. Many engineers, managers and doctors in the GCC countries are Indians. Do all these facts have earned India an image of a beautiful country with genius brains? Well, the second part of the phrase- ‘genius brains’ seems to be true. However, I am not sure about the ‘beautiful country’!

Lush greenery, ever flowing rivers, scenic and enchanting mountains and yet India is not beautiful? Well, my previous question about foreigners’ view about India got partly answered during an encounter with a highly educated person from Jordan. Dr. Hurani was (is) the director of Nursing in a reputed and largest governmental hospital in Bahrain. She was on a sojourn to India as part of a recruitment drive. In the course of interviewing hundreds of nurses and doctors in India, she had visited several cities. “ How was your experience in India?’, I asked inquisitively. “ Amidst my busy schedule, in the evenings I made it a point to go around. India has got lot of greenery but very poor civic sense!” She went on to add, “ In parts of Kerala and Mumbai that I visited, I could not help but cover my nose . I think the Government needs to do something about it!”

If you observe her words, she has a lot of appreciation for the natural beauty of India, but loathes the poor sanitation and maintenance of public places. She is all in praise for the human resource of the country. Indians are brainy, Indian natural resources are beautiful and yet India is not beautiful! Even as this thought was ringing in my mind day in and day out, I read about the ‘ clean India’ initiative of our prime minister Modi. I was so overjoyed. The world’s largest democracy took 68 years to realize the importance of Clean India! Better late than never!

On 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, Modi, the prime minister of India wielded the broom to ‘clean’ India!. It is indeed for the first time in the history of India, a prime minister takes cleanliness as the national priority. As NSS volunteer, I remember cleaning the town by picking the plastic rags. It was half a day progaramme. We, 30 odd volunteers cleaned the whole town. But we were disheartened the next day to see the town littered with plastics thrown around! From the hindsight, now I understand as a leader why Modi is asking people in influential position such as film stars, sportsmen, and MPS to emulate him in cleaning India! In nutshell, it is an awareness drive!

The campaign brought to my mind the image of dirty slums projected in Slum Dog Millionaire directed by Western Danny Boyle. Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood icon, Mumbai resident and the real-life presenter of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ denounced the movie on the ground that “the movie highlights slums and focuses negative international attention on India—and this is what's offensive.” It was an obvious reaction from a patriotic Indian actor. Nevertheless, the movie should draw the attention of the Government and the NGOs to the grim reality of acute poverty and filthy slums of India.

The middle class and the elite Indians may keep their houses clean but when it comes to public places they act as ignorant as illiterates! It is an old adage that Indians ,when abroad, take care not to spit in the public or make sure to throw the rubbish in the bin but forget all that once they land at home! Is it the price of democracy!?

The novel ‘Clean India’ Initiative has got unprecedented response from all the people irrespective of their political and religious affiliations. From school children to film stars to politicians to priests have supported the movement. The Mangalore diocese of Catholics in Mangalore, for instance, has followed the suit with the tagline ‘My waste , My responsibility’. The media is also inspired! The success of the movement can be truly gauged when every citizen including a politician or a film star in long run is inspired to wield the broom even in the absence of the TV cameras!

The Mission aims to make India ‘clean’ by October 2, 2019, Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. This goal will include the elimination of open defecation, which Modi called a “blot on society”, especially for women and young girls.

Clean India is the joint responsibility of every Indian and the Governments. Awareness is indeed the first effective step. What the country now needs is concrete action. Mere media coverage will not serve any purpose. The government has to change the statistics on public sanitation facilities in schools and cities. Developing clear policy on different kinds of waste management should be the priority. Let Indian delegation visit different countries and study their system.

It has been reported that nearly half of Indians defecate in the open space. There are not enough number of public toilets in many towns and cities in the country. In such a scenario, it is neither practical nor rational to ban urination in the public places! So the need of the hour is to address issues concerning infrastructure.

Mere awareness will not solve the problem. Everyone knows that smoking is injurious but many still smoke! Enact suitable legislation and issue guidelines to be followed in the public. Gradually impose fines on the offenders and use the money to maintain public hygiene.

Let the campaign be more comprehensive and participative. Like minded associations and NGOs in the country can come forward and their representatives can be trained so that there is an effective action plan. Different NGOs can then focus on different dimensions of sanitation. Let there be a clarion call for schools and colleges to create awareness in rural areas! Let it be an apolitical movement!

“Dream, Dream Dream , dreams transform into thoughts , and thoughts result in action.” said A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Let’s turn Modi’s dream into action to restore the beauty of India!

Anthony D'Souza Archives:



By Anthony D'Souza, Madanthyar / Bahrain
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Comment on this article

  • Suresh Salian, Mangalore

    Wed, Dec 10 2014

    Very nice article. I am also working in the Middle East and I heard same thing from other people here what exactly Dr. Hurani Says

  • Kurt Waschnig, Oldenburg, Germany

    Mon, Dec 08 2014

    Dear Rita, yes India is a very beautiful country and you know many people in Germany like India a lot.

  • ad, mangloor

    Mon, Dec 08 2014

    India is a beautiful country but people of india make india dirty being unclean and careless for various reasons.

  • Rita, Germany

    Mon, Dec 08 2014

    Dear Kurt,as a Indian Born,Iam very proud of my Country and it is beutiful,its People also are,.One cannot Count countrys beuty on powerty ,or its population but ist natural beuty.Of course due to lack of education,and not paying much Attention towards cleanliness,it is dirty,need to be attended .Due to lack of Hygiene ,diseases are common.No Money for poor People to build wc.Olden days they used open latrines.Now govt tries to build .but when our corrupt politicians and some People also are main cause for the work not going Forward.Almost everywhere it is there.sad.Due to our tropic warm weather naturally you get a bad smell That wecant help.But with all that India is a beutiful Country and ist People too are warm hearted.see our People.Are they not beutiful?Govt,should first work on corruption and then cleaning will also be done by educating People hard and efficient.


    Sun, Dec 07 2014

    I totally agree with some of the comments that India is a Beautiful Country, But People are not good, everywhere full of corrpution, dirty, Bribery that is true India. Hope we had still been rule by British India would be far better just my opinion

  • Kurt Waschnig, Oldenburg, Germany

    Sat, Dec 06 2014

    Ireally think that Prime Minister Modi has the serious intention to "clean" India. But the question is, will Indians follow Prie Minister Modi and can this indeed great goal be achieved. I hope it can be achieved.

  • Kurt Waschnig, Oldenburg, Germany

    Sat, Dec 06 2014

    I live in Germany and there is no doubt, I am in love with India and know lots of Indians who are close friends of mine. I know India very well and dear Anthony, thank you for this interesting and very deep going article. I have been reading Indian newspapers like The Hindu, The Statesman and Indian blogs for a long time and according to those papers and blogs ´India, the third largest economy in the world, is flooded with many social, political, cultural, and environmental issues. All such issues are interlinked with each other in one or the other way. The issues which are of major concern these days are all discussed separately in many ways and the solutions to tackle these problems are also being discussed. Apart from these issues, there is an issue of major concern, that is, Poverty. The lives of poor people and the environmental conditions are interlinked to each other.  Poverty causes lack of economic development leading to inadequate sanitation and clean drinking water facilities and an unsuited environment to people. Their cultural heritage is also affected, their livelihood and their true sense of living is also hampered. Factors such as surrounding poor environment, low usage of resources and bad health of poor people are interlinked to poverty. Increase in population is major factor which is not in proportion with the economic output of the country and due to which poverty is increasing day by day. High growth rate of population is causing lowering of natural resources and deforestation, and the affect of which can be seen in nearby small villages and the tribal areas. Poverty leading to unhygienic environment, illiteracy, unemployment, poor health etc should be treated in the same manner as other issues are considered. Our surrounding environment is most affected by the poverty in the country. The links between the poverty and the environment are embedded in the social, cultural, economic and climatic factors. The population of India encompasses the broad range (from minimum to maximum) of income and the education spectra. It has the diverse range of cultural, religious and social systems. Different languages, different races, different social and cultural heritages etc in a region is the reflection of this beautiful environment, of which we all are part. But how we can make it more beautiful?´ Anthony, at the end of your article you say:´Let’s turn Modi’s dream into action to restore the beauty of India!´
    The future will show if all the problems India faces can be solved. I wish deep from my heart an India where people live free of environmental disasters and a clean environment.

    Best regards
    Kurt Waschnig, Oldenburg (Germany)


  • lewis, udupi/u.s.a

    Sat, Dec 06 2014

    Modi brooming wrong place he should broom Indians dirty brains

  • Af,, mangaluru

    Fri, Dec 05 2014

    India is always beautiful but Indians who spoiled it.
    cleaning of places will not solve the problem unless people clean their mind,out thinking has to be changed.

  • Girish M, Mangalore

    Fri, Dec 05 2014

    Swatch Bharat is really going to happen only if everyone decide to do so by their will not by just show..

  • Bsatheesh, udupi/dubai

    Fri, Dec 05 2014

    Good article and good thought. God bless you writer. When will be our country or at least south canara will be clean with good road, descent bus services.

  • John DSouza, Mangaluru

    Fri, Dec 05 2014

    India is beautiful, Indians are beautiful, but not the minds
    Environment and opportunities are beautiful, but not the objectives
    Talents, ideas and resources are beautiful, but not intentions
    Preachers and teachers are beautiful, but no serious followers
    India is beautiful, but no clear vision to see the beauty and enjoy

  • S. Fernandes, Mangalore

    Thu, Dec 04 2014

    IS MANGALORE BEAUTIFUL ? When I was in Oman my sponsor a lady asked me, one of my relatives child, just six months old and having problem with her eye sight. I heard there is one good Doctor in Mangalore I want to send her there. So I took appointment with that doctor and in all four Arab ladies, two from Oman one from Dubai and one from Abudhabi decided to come to Mangalore. But they chose Emirates Airlines to land in Bangalore, just because Air tragedy few days before that. After coming back I asked my sponsor how was you trip to Mangalore, she said Doctor was very good, but Nursing home worse than toilets here and Mangalore is horrible.

  • Lancy Henry Moras (Lhm), Moushmi Creations, Bajjodi

    Thu, Dec 04 2014

    Thank you Anthony D'Souza for a wonderful article on our gr8 nation on this universe. INDIA is beautiful coz it is blessed with a multiple religions where no second Country holds this award. They are:

    HINDUISM - about 82%
    ISLAM - about 12%
    CHRISTIANITY - about 2.5%
    SIKHISM - about 2%
    BUDDHISM - about 0.7%
    JAINISM - about 0.5%
    ZOROASTRIANISM - about 0.01%JUDAISM - about 0.0005%

    I JUST LOVE MY COUNTRY DilSe despite of all kinds of whatever good or bad politics. Thank you again.

  • Lawrence, Bangalore

    Thu, Dec 04 2014

    Dear Anthony,

    Thanks for writing down this article and I should admit that this it is a fact that India is beautiful but Indians are dirty .I may be not a strong supporter of any party but surely I am a supporter for a clean India . If our Country has to change the mindset of people should change and only then India will see a difference.I always start and think of Indian Citizens attitude who are busy in corruption but not concerned about the environment. I only have one question what is the money for, if an Indian does not have clean food to eat , Clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe.The reason why India is still lacking behind is because we people are not serious about the 3 aspects.

    Lets forget the surroundings, I had recently visited a restaurant in Bangalore and one family was sitting next to our table. when they finished their dinner the waiter just stood for a few minutes planning and thinking from which side should he start cleaning and in meantime I thought to myself that my dog was more disciplined while eating . It was a shame to see these people making a mess on a dining table with bones and food strewn around.I only hope Swach Bharath will be a dream come true for Indians in years to come which should be every citizens responsibility .

  • Bryan, Bahrain

    Thu, Dec 04 2014

    But how long will Swachh Bharat, or Clean India last? There is no doubt that unless this becomes a people’s movement, nothing can be achieved. Every Indian should realize that Cleanliness is everyone’s business. Go to a place in Vamanjoor-Mangalore, this place stinks, I feel pity for the kids in schools and college nearby who have to live with it everyday, I always teach my kids to be clean and hygienic at all times. My next vacation I am going to carry strong brooms in my luggage...

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