Wasted - The Messy Story of Sanitation in India, A Manifesto for Change

Written by Ankur Bisen, Wasted – The Messy Story of Sanitation in India, A Manifesto for Change carries the grim message – “The effort to clean India will take a little more than to simply pick up the broom and start sweeping.” Ankur Bisen, who is a management consultant has thought and researched about India’s sanitation problems and possible solutions, while working in diverse fields such as affordable house, urban, and rural consumption clusters, food, retailing, resource recovery, and consumer products with an Indian focus.

The 571-page scholarly tome - via stories, anecdotes, and analysis of events - examines the intertwined problems of urban planning, governance, and its legislation, and the institutional and human capacity building. Ankur Bisen said, “Generations have lived their entire conscious lives in the company of dirt and thus their minds are conditioned to accept dirty surroundings as the status quo. Such a society cannot fight for a superior reference point on sanitation where none exists in the mind in the first place. It is wishful thinking to wait for an awakening of Indian society to fix the broken waste-management system.”

Realising that the cleaner societies of today were nudged towards cleaner living, rather that the citizens expressing their demands for a clean living and the state working towards it, Ankur said, “An awakened society as a prelude to clean living is even more of a far-fetched dream in the case of India because the notion of sanitation is burdened with the unique challenge of social prejudice.”

The book states, “It exposes our democratic credentials that supposedly champion cooperative federalism but assign the job of disposing the aftermath of the consumption binge of our aspiring nation to the weakest member of the Indian state.”

Ankur Bisen also pointed a major area of concern, “An omen of the trap into which the Indian state falls repeatedly, treating symptoms of a problem as the problem itself, is its failure to clean its rivers, especially the sacred river Ganga.” He also added that in February 2017, when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) for not doing a good job and for wasting public resources, the irony was hard to miss!    ---  Vishnu Makhijani (IANS)