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Cleanliness was just one among many Gandhian ideals, and arguably one of the least significant ones in the context of the times he lived in ( Photo: Mint)
Cleanliness was just one among many Gandhian ideals, and arguably one of the least significant ones in the context of the times he lived in ( Photo: Mint)

Opinion | Don’t be a spitfire!

While it is heartening that Indian millennials are championing Gandhi’s vision of a clean India, a worry is that the younger generations may begin to let the other values he espoused slip out of memory

On the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, an unusual hashtag, #ThukMat, which means “Don’t Spit", has been trending on social media. The hashtag caught attention after Twitter users began circulating a zippy rap song on the social ill that is spitting in public places. The video is part of a wider campaign to promote a new product, EzySpit, that claims to convert saliva into semi-solid waste biodegradable waste material within 10 seconds, kills any bacteria in the blob, and then turns this waste into a fertilizer for plants within a few days.

What has caught the imagination of millennials, it seems, is the campaign against spitting—a major problem in India. Such waste is a big sanitation challenge, undeniably. Apart from the aesthetic disaster that it is, the saliva of people suffering contagious infections poses a health risk to large numbers. With India bearing one of the highest burdens in the world for infections like tuberculosis and swine flu, and the Indian Railways shelling out 100 crore on mopping up paan stains off its train coaches each year, such an initiative is welcome. That it draws upon Gandhian values is likely to draw special attention to its aims.

While it is heartening that Indian millennials are championing Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of a clean India, a worry is that younger generations may begin to let the other values he espoused slip out of memory. Cleanliness was just one among many Gandhian ideals, and arguably one of the least significant ones in the context of the times he lived in and the divisions he sought to overcome with his all-inclusive message of peace, justice and tolerance.

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