During my visit to Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad, I noticed that there was a major thrust towards showcasing how this was a very vital part of our cultural history. There were notes everywhere, painted, pictures etc about how we aimed to create an equal and casteless society. We’re really bad at communicating this history to the large population who visit the Ashram – the young and the foreigner, especially, who have only seen a resurgent India.
This is the picture that greets you outside the toilet block. What is written in Hindi, translates into English as, “I asked for water, not your caste.” It is a one-liner that informs one about the caste system, the untouchability and various other practices that did exist once in India and still does exist in some form or the other in India. Yet, this is not properly communicated and hence it continues to remain a problem.
Many people just walked by this mural. Even if you did not see any other thing in the Gandhi Museum – the Ashram rules, the letters Gandhi wrote, the various sayings pasted on the walls (which one could easily read in a book!), missing this is a crime! Yet, foreigners had no way of reading the Hindi script, the kids were just scampering – more intent on getting to the toilet. Many just avoided this space because it was a toilet block. This still smells a bit, doesn’t it? How we look down upon our civil sanitation spaces? Before we wipe out corruption and other evils from Society, the first one we must wipe out is our lack of civil sanitation. The rest will be “cleaned up”automatically, in my opinion.