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The broken window

I have never been a great fan of politicians, and more so of the chest pumping, Rambo types who are given to rabble rousing. Small wonder, most politicians don’t appeal to me.

It’s some reflection on a nation that its Prime Minister has to tell them to keep clean the streets, roads and infrastructure clean (Swach Bharat).  It’s not as though we can’t. World over, Indian’s have maintained this discipline.  It’s got to do with the broken window theory.

The theory, grounded in psychology, suggests that if we keep our neighbourhood clean, it would stop people from littering the place. If the windows are not repaired, vandals are likely to break a few more windows.  If we don’t quickly clear litter, litter would accumulate. And eventually people would convert the roads into trashcans, even leaving carry bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there.

Under the broken windows theory, clean environment sends the signal that the area is monitored and bad behavior will not be tolerated. Conversely, a disordered environment with broken windows, graffiti, excessive litter sends the signal that the area is not monitored. It is not the actual broken window that is important; it’s the message the people receive that’s crucial.

The Prime Minister has done the right thing in ordering a Swach Bharat initiative.

But I think the Adarsh Gram Yojana aka ‘Adopt a Village’ plan is more picture perfect. To convert 2500 villages into smart ones by 2019 is an idea whose time has come.  Remember, a good 72 per cent of India’s population lives in its 638,588 villages. It’s interesting that Members of Parliament cutting across party lines have gotten into this.

According to the government’s website, every MP has to adopt one village and develop it. Villages with a population of 3000- 5000 are eligible for the program. The MP needs to set the parameters of the kind of development he would like to concentrate on most. The programme also looks at providing each village with smart schools, basic amenities for health and hygiene and pucca housing.

If political parties can stop playing divisive politics, like they have stopped now, and if they forget the trantrums that an opposition normally plays, then we would be headed for a new inclusive India. And in that new India we would want to see a clean India, a developed one, where access to opportunity is the same for all, one in which education is not expensive and the citizens’ potential is realised to its very full. 

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