As Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” We are a generation at the crossroads of a major natural resource crunch and very soon we will find it difficult to sustain this burgeoning population of ours. Earth can provide sufficiently for all its denizens due to its aptitude for recycling resources unendingly- such as through the water cycle, nutrient cycles, etc. Human interventions have caused failure in the proper cycling of resources. The solution lies in facilitating the completion of the natural cycles and restoring nature’s innate balance through proper waste management. However, it is not easy to change habits and routines, especially with the advent of modern lifestyle that encourages disposable. A large, trained cadre of focused workforce is needed to bring about this change.
While remembering Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary it is bounden duty of all us to take on his ideals and present national priorities of Swachhta. Swachhta is not just environmental need but also offers potential for entrepreneurship and employment. The burgeoning population of our country, its per capita increase in demand for resources and the growing economy lead us to one fundamental question- how can we provide enough for everyone? Equitable distribution of wealth and resources is a utopic dream. Whereas, an improved environment for one and all, especially for the rural and fringe urban citizens, is an achievable goal. For this, one important resource that goes un-noticed is what we term as ‘waste’. Simply put, waste is a poorly managed resource. Today technology has advanced to such heights that wealth can be created out of garbage. Recycling of waste is the mantra for sustainability. However, this knowledge is yet to seep into the depths of communities across India.
The proposed curriculum on Sanitation, Hygiene and Waste Management takes a leaf from the concept of ‘Swachhta as a way of life’ and transforms it into a wealth of opportunity for the youth of India. With government support, community awareness and united effort, waste resource management can play a major role in protecting the health of citizens in India. Involving the youth into this movement is the need of the hour.
The concept of swachhta is deeply intertwined with the protection of our environment. In 2004 the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India directed the University Grants Commission to make Environmental Studies compulsory for all undergraduate courses for one semester. Wherever it is being offered, the emphasis laid on it is far less than the core subject, thereby diluting its importance. Hence, there is a need for an elective course at undergraduate level on Swachhta to improve employability while emphasizing the practicalities of maintaining a standard of hygiene at community level.
The Proposal here is to prepare a curriculum for a single-semester elective course in Sanitation, Hygiene and Waste Management of theoretical input followed by term end 4 week practical field level project work. The focus of the course will be on practical implementation of sanitation techniques to improve community environmental hygiene thereby empowering the students to guide communities towards adopting the best practices in clean and green living, while making them aware of the hazards posed by certain practices that they are habituated to.
The curriculum will include theory classes, case studies of exemplary practices in India and a field visit to a nearby village or slum or township to study in detail their current sanitation/ cleanliness issues and the environmental impacts of the same. In this manner, the course will bridge the gap between the textual knowledge and evolving contextual practices in India. It will make us look at sanitation & waste management as resource recovery management and train us in this direction of seeking career opportunities and self employment.