“Cleanliness is about consideration for others. It begins with each hand vowing not to litter… If the collective hand of India stops littering, garbage mountains won’t rise. The power of the hand is enormous. I would teach my hand some manners to make India clean.”
With these resounding yet simple words, Pune resident Viney Kirpal (68) has gone onto win a national award for her 246-words essay, written as part of a competition organised by the Centre earlier this month, titled ‘Swachh Sankalp Se Swachh Siddhi’. Kirpal, former professor and head of Humanities and Social Sciences department at IIT-Bombay, is among the select few from Maharashtra to be shortlisted for this award, which will be presented at Vigyan Bhavan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2.
“The award has come as a pleasant surprise, as my entry got through the state level before being shortlisted for the final award by the Union government,” said Kirpal, also the founder of Great Foundation, a city-based NGO. Starting out as a young teacher of English at IIT-Bombay in 1974, the veteran has witnessed many batches of engineers pass out with flying colours. But, she was throughout involved in helping students coming from humble backgrounds, who would often struggled to cope with studies, particularly at IITs.
Her brief essay, which she says took just four hours to write, was written to inspire her fellow countrymen to make right use of their hands, which have little idea of the damage caused to nature due to littering. “There is no use simply pointing fingers at the government and expecting them to maintain cleanliness when there is power in one’s own hands – either to litter the surroundings or to do magical wonders by preventing this habit,” said Kirpal.
In her essay, she has evoked her mother, who she recalls would refrain from throwing things on the pavements along the road. “Indians have grown up with this habit of cleanliness and it is not something external that one has to incorporate. Our schools and colleges have a bigger role to play in passing on this message of cleanliness, so that the future generations to live in a clean India,” she urged.