The theory of broken windows and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Great things happen not just with great ideas, most of the times it is a simple idea implemented effectively that makes all the difference.

How easy it is for people to admire the cleanliness of the first world, while spitting in public at the same time when in India. Why is it that, every Indian that goes off to live in the first world, becomes a great citizen of that country, while the same guy when back, resorts to the same old habits. The civic sense is gone and so is the need to keep our surroundings clean. The root cause lies in “what is acceptable” here and “how much we care” – a perfect explanation of which comes from the Broken Window theory.

There is a concept of broken window, which essentially states that some damage unchecked promotes further acts of damage or vandalism and the corollary, a well maintained and cared for state will be a deterrent towards any behavior worsening it. The example is taken of a car abandoned on a road. If the car is in perfect condition, it is very less likely to be attacked, but once a window is broken and left like that, it promotes a lot of others to attack, steal and mutilate it further. Why is that? Well the state of a system describes the care people devote to it, a broken window is a signal of apathy and promotes people to worsen the situation with impunity. The interesting observation of these experiments was that the people acting as vandals were apparently decent family crowd. We are not talking criminals or unruly youth or any other such demographic, it’s our white collar, decent individuals.

Our India cleanliness situation has fallen into the same spiral. You see garbage in public places and think its OK to have dirt and garbage in public places, you add a little more. The situation soon becomes worse and keeps getting more so to the point we start living in a virtual monster dumpster of a city. A jolt is what is needed to break this cycle and that’s what has happened when our Prime minister took this in his own hand and accorded this simple decent habit the attention it deserves.

It is important, that we make it last. A onetime clean up act is not what we need. We need a change in behavior, internalize it to the extent it becomes our second nature. A common approach to stop bad behavior is punishment, but how much will it help to put prohibitive measures? How many vigilantes you will need to enforce a rule like this, until you turn into vigilante, each one of us.

It is the voice of everyday that will make the difference. Every citizen, a vigilante. In fact, if each one of us can take responsibility for just ourselves, it will be more than enough to get to where we want to be.

The multiplier effect of a large number of people applying a simple idea effectively is a powerful concept. All we have to ensure is we are able to raise our voice when needed to show “we care” in our daily lives and it will all be well soon.

There is an interesting campaign that strepsils is running to make sure we raise our voice. Here are some places to follow Montu, here on facebook and here on twitter#AbMontuBolega represents each one of us as we have been silenced over years for raising our voice even if it was for the right cause. The muffled voice now needs to come out, Montu has to speak now.

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