Gandhi's Views On Environment
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.
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."
out our unhygienic habits Gandhiji strongly emphasized observing cleanliness in
lavatories, and wrote in Navajivan on 24-5-1925:
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
the title. 'Our Dirty Ways' in Navajivan on 13-9-1925, Gandhiji wrote the
excretory functions should be performed only at fixed places.
pass urine anywhere in a street, at any place not meant for the purpose
should be regarded an offence.
passing urine at any selected place, one should cover up the spot well with
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.
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."
wrote in Hanjan on 8-2-1935:
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
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."
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:
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."