Scientist cycles across 13 states for cleanliness

Scientist cycles across 13 states for cleanliness

Abhishek Kumar Sharma, an environmental research scholar and a native of Fategarh, Uttar Pradesh, cycled to Bengaluru across 13 states and 211 districts to create awareness about the benefits of cleanliness and hygiene.

His campaign is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA). When asked about the need for such an initiative Abhishek said: “In our country 50 crore people do not have toilets; they go for open defecation. However, they can buy phones and vehicles. They do not know the importance of a toilet.”

Hence, he set out on a campaign stressing the importance of everyday personal hygiene and cleanliness and its impact on the society, economy, environment and psychology.

Calling the tour an ‘Uncertain Journey: Cycling across India for the change’, Abhishek said he had no specific plans for his stay, food and other expenses. “Even places I choose to stay are uncertain,” he said. He travelled 11,500 km to reach Karnataka.

He has dedicated a year for the campaign ‘to change people’s mindset’. In the last eight months beginning from November 10, 2014, he has spoken to students in 2,519 schools, colleges and universities.

Though he hails from the Hindi belt of North India, language has not been a problem to him. “In my personal opinion, language is not a barrier to convey an idea,” he says. Translators have also helped him in this endeavour. In villages, he holds special sessions for people called ‘Saaf Safai ki Chaupal’, which means the benefits of cleanliness. 

In a unique exercise that he calls the ‘psychological magical poster’, he asks people to make hand-drawn posters with a message – ‘Do not litter anywhere. Keep your surroundings clean’. They have to then sign the poster with their name, qualification and a photograph. This poster should then be hung at offices and homes. He reasoned that such posters make people responsible and change their mindsets.

“The problem in our country is that nobody wants to take responsibility. What matters in such a campaign is collective responsibility,” he said. So far, he has visited 194 Solid Waste Management (SWM) plants in the country. After the completion of the tour, he wants to present a status report on the SWM plants across the country to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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