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Mahatma Gandhiji Information Website
Gandhi’s Views On Environment
Sanitation & hygiene
Gandhiji offered detailed comments in Navajivan dated 2-11-1919 on cleanliness and good habits and indicated its close relationship with good health:
“. . . No one should spit or clean his nose on the streets. In some cases the sputum is so harmful that the germs are carried from it and they infect others with tuberculosis. In some places spitting on the road is a criminal offence. Those who spit after chewing betel leaves and tobacco have no consideration for the feelings of others. Spittle, mucus from the nose, etc, should also be covered with earth.
“Near the village or dwellings, there should be no ditches in which water can collect. Mosquitoes do not breed where water does not stagnate. Where there are no mosquitoes, the incidence of malaria is low. At one time, water used to collect around Delhi. After the hollows were filled, mosquitoes were greatly reduced and so also was malaria.”
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Pointing out our unhygienic habits Gandhiji strongly emphasized observing cleanliness in lavatories, and wrote in Navajivan on 24-5-1925:
“I shall have to defend myself on one point, namely, sanitary conveniences. I learnt 35 years ago that a lavatory must be as clean as a drawing-room. I learnt this in the West. I believe that many rules about cleanliness in lavatories are observed more scrupulously in the West than in the East. There are some defects in their rules in this matter, which can be easily remedied. The cause of many of our diseases is the condition of our lavatories and our bad habit of disposing of excreta anywhere and everywhere. I, therefore, believe in the absolute necessity of a clean place for answering the call of nature and clean articles for use at the time, have accustomed myself to them and wish that all others should do the same. The habit has become so firm in me that even if I wished to change it I would not be able to do so. Nor do I wish to change it”
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Under the title. ‘Our Dirty Ways’ in Navajivan on 13-9-1925, Gandhiji wrote the following:
1. Both excretory functions should be performed only at fixed places.
2. To pass urine anywhere in a street, at any place not meant for the purpose should be regarded an offence.
3. After passing urine at any selected place, one should cover up the spot well with dry earth.
4. Lavatories should be kept very clean. Even the part through which the water flows should be kept clean.
Our lavatories bring our civilization into discredit, they violate the rules of hygiene.
5. All the night-soil should be removed to fields.
“. . . If my suggestion is followed, no one would need to remove night-soil, the air would not become polluted and villages would remain very clean.”
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He wrote in Hanjan on 8-2-1935:
“Village tanks are promiscuously used for bathing, washing clothes and drinking and cooking purposes. Many village tanks are also used by cattle. Buffaloes are often to be seen wallowing in them. The wonder is that, inspite of this sinful misuse of village tanks, villages have not been destroyed by epidemics. It is the universal medical evidence that this neglect to ensure purity of the water supply of villages is responsible for many of the diseases suffered by the villagers.”
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Gandhiji wrote on 17-12-1942, how simplicity helped healthy living:
“. . . Many households are so packed with all sorts of unnecessary decorations and furniture which one can very well do without, that a simple living man will feel suffocated in those surroundings. They are nothing but means of harbouring dust, bacteria and insects. . . I meant to say is that my desire to be in tune with the infinite has saved me from many complications in life. It led not merely to simplicity of household and dress but all round simplicity in the mode of my life. In a nutshell, and in the language of the subject under discussion, I have gone on creating more and more contact with akash. With the increase in the contact went improvement in health. I had more contentment and piece of mind and the desire for belongings almost disappeared. He who will establish contact with the infinite possesses nothing and yet possesses everything. In the ultimate analysis, man owns that of which he can make legitimate use and which he can assimilate. If everybody followed this rule, there would be room enough for all and there would be neither want nor overcrowding.”
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In his speech at a prayer meeting on 3-9-1946 in New Delhi, Gandhiji emphasized that servants’ quarters should be as clean as ministers’ bungalows:
“There is no gainsaying that we have not learnt the art of external sanitation to the degree that the English have. What is so distressing is that the living quarters of the menials and sweepers employed in the Viceroy’s House are extremely dirty. This is a state of affairs the ministers of our new Government will not tolerate. Although they will occupy the same well-kept bungalows, they will see to it that the lodgings of their servants are kept as clean as their own. They will also have to pay attention to the cleanliness of the wives and children of the staff Jawaharlal and Sardar have no objection to cleaning their own lavatories. How can they have any in having the living quarters of their attendants cleaned? A one-time Harijan servant of Jawaharlal is now a member of the V.P. Assembly. I shall be satisfied only when the lodgings of the ministers’ staff are as neat and tidy as their own.”
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Top 10 Gandhi Quotes
1. “Imitation is the sincerest flattery.”
2. “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
3. “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
4. “In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.”
5. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
6. “My life is my message.”
7. “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
8. “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.”
9. “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
10. “Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.”