Monday, October 12, 2015

Biswanath Ghosh visits Modi's constituency

Grime on the ghat : I particularly liked the story of the two clean ghats and the contrasting ways of cleaning them. Excerpts:
"It was Sulabh that cleaned up the ghat and is now maintaining it — the central government sanctioned close to Rs.30 crore for the project, formally titled “Development of Area around Assi Ghat, Varanasi” — .......
From Assi Ghat, I walk downstream to Prabhu Ghat, one of my two favourite ghats of Varanasi, the other being Darbhanga Ghat. I like them because they are clean, set against handsome, historical structures, and have an old-world feel about them — ideal spots in the city to gaze at the river.
At Prabhu Ghat, I find young men with guitars sitting on the steps. Loudspeakers are being set up and standees erected. A musical programme is about to begin: a radio channel is celebrating the first anniversary of a show in which budding singers from the city are invited to perform, and many of those singers are in attendance now.
A small audience has already gathered, among them a lady who stands out because every now and then, someone or the other, mostly young men, touch her feet.
“Who is she?” I ask the boatman, a boy of 17, who has become friendly with me in a matter of minutes.
“She is the one who cleaned up Prabhu Ghat,” he says.
“Was this ghat also dirty?”
“Unimaginably dirty. Go talk to her,” the boy says.
The lady, Temsutula Imsong, who is 32 now, was born in a village called Ungma in Nagaland. She studied in Shillong, went on to work in Delhi, and in 2012, came to Ghazipur, near Varanasi, to join an NGO started by her friend — an ex-Navy man — who is now her husband. That’s how she first set eyes on the ghats of Varanasi.
“This ghat was an open toilet when I first saw it,” she told me. “It was buried under silt — you couldn’t see the steps — and people were relieving themselves wherever they pleased. It irked me.”
One day in March this year, she and a woman friend — who has now left Varanasi — pooled in some money, bought brooms, buckets, masks and some basic equipment, and, enlisting the support of local boatmen and idlers on the ghat, began cleaning it.
“Were you inspired by the Swachh Bharat campaign?”
“No, nothing like that. Though when we were cleaning up the place, we could hear passersby saying, ‘See, see, Modiji’s campaign is going on!’”
Modi has acknowledged her work. He mentioned her name in two tweets, she said. A local paper called her ‘Kashi ki bahu’ — the daughter-in-law of Kashi, or Varanasi. “I take that as a compliment, even though that’s not correct, I am the daughter-in-law of Ghazipur,” she laughs. As I sit with her on the steps, more boys touch her feet as they walk past.
“How long did it take you to clean up the ghat?” I ask her.
“Five days. We started on March 18, and by March 22, the ghat was shining, just the way it is now,” she pats the steps.
“And how much did it cost you?”"
“Three thousand rupees.”

1 comment:

chavakiran said...

3 thousand + will power