The Alternate Diwali

I woke up today with the hustle bustle downstairs, with aunty (landlady) shooting orders to everyone for cleaning up every inch of her house. This is a perennial activity which starts a week after Durga Pooja celebrations, end. The month of November marks the change in climate with the clear sky losing heat especially during evenings and mornings. People use up the afternoon heat and all the space available on balconies and rooftops to deodorise the stored blankets and sweaters. Everyone is in a tidiness frenzy, the stored tiny led lights dance on window panes and open house tops. Children are excited with the prospects of lashings of sweets, new clothes and loudest of crackers brought at home by doting parents. 

I for one, don’t feel the same this year. I have been studying things around more keenly these days. Like the road I cross everyday which was dilapidated a year ago, now its worse. I see the people living next to it, with a huge drain as their neighbour, interacting with the only source of drinking water. Everyday while I drive by to office, crossing this locality, I notice a few children on the drain defecating, women close by getting water for cooking purpose and men trying to sweep off the coal dust from near their houses (lighted last night probably to keep their plastic clad roofs warm) into the drain. Everything ends into the crumbly drain, which might just have given up yesterday from the copious waste pushed into it everyday. And did I mention, this place had a huge community dustbin, municipality people collected garbage (non segregated) from all nearby houses and discarded it here. It (community dustbin) kinda disappeared overnight, but the municipality humdrum continues the same way, each day, without change. 

I live in Ranchi, capital city of Jharkhand and there are numerous such localities which have sprouted along side residential areas in the city. These places don’t have potable source of drinking water or closed defecation areas (toilets). Tribal legion state is one of the newest, has suffered unstable government and has humungous poverty quotient. 45% children drop out of schools before they are 14 years old. Malnutrition is at peak and women and children suffering with anaemia is highest in the country. 93% of the population defecates openly and knowledge level on hand washing is miniscule. When I witness this around, cleaning my already spotless home and wasting water on washing stairs and roof seems futile. 

Imputation and tea time gossip on the issues are done by all and everywhere, I request all to do their part this Diwali for our city. Lets make our cities healthier and brighter. Lets gift the knowledge of health & nutrition which would help changing lives instead of sweets (which might just change the blood glucose levels for a while). 

I wish to light up Diwali for those little kids this year, facilitate a cleaning exercise, mobilising the NGO volunteers to make a cleaner space available around the kids to crawl. Donation of soap boxes and some blankets. Sanitation campaign sprawled across the country needs to lift the blind eye to where its needed most, we need to open the blinds and help our government, help them in making our city cleaner this year. Nutrition smiles where hygiene is present and visa versa, let us make this Diwali count. Lets make a difference, lets alter the Diwali a healthy way.