The views expressed by the author are personal and not of the institute where Dr. Navin Punjabi is employed or affiliated. I would like to acknowledge my students Mr. Ashish Sharma, Ms. Fatima and thier class to bring this interesting debate to class. You can email your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
It was around 6.30 pm and I had just finished a case of ‘Role of a manager’ and on my way down just outside the gate I saw my student at the Panwalla lighting his cigarette!!! Looking at me out of respect he disposed his cigarette and approached me to discuss about the complicated role of a manager and the discussion just got hotter with politics at workplace and the role of manager. I offered him a ride and asked him if I could drop him somewhere on my way home and he agreed.
The discussion moved from role of a manager to the the most recent topic ‘Swatch Bharat Abhiyan’ The topic of ‘SWACH BHARAT ABHIYAN’ has been going around for quite some time now. It started when our honourable Prime Minister Modiji picked up a broom to clean up the streets of our country on 02nd October, 2014 with the objective of intimidating the people to do the same! Our prime minister cleaned the streets himself and after he did so, he nominated 09 famous celebrities to join the challenge and then asked them to further nominate 9 other people to clean up the streets with a view of covering the whole of India slowly and gradually.
So basically this was our prime minister’s attempt to create an Indian version of the ‘ALS ice bucket challenge’ which time will tell if it can achieve the same success as the American awareness raising campaign! Funny isn’t it? How we enjoyed putting ice over our heads for a disease that hasn’t even reached India but we’re ashamed of cleaning up the garbage of our neighbourhood which is actually the cause of most of the diseases that we suffer from today!! Oh, forget cleaning, many are littering it and the worst part is that they don’t even care.
F.Y.I- you are liable to pay a fine Of Rs.250 for every piece of paper/wrapper/etc. you throw anywhere except a garbage bin! But the question here is who’s going to make you pay? Because appointing man force to monitor in every street of our country, trying to catch the offenders from our 122 billion people littering around…..doesn’t quite seem possible, does it?
So to overcome this limitation our government came up with something new…Yes!! A brand new cess! It’s called ‘The swach bharat cess’ This new cess is a cess levied on all the services which are taxable under chapter VI the Indian finance act 2015 at (50 basis points ) 0.5 percent of the value of services provided. The proceeds collected via this new tax will be used for cleaning, maintaining hygiene and promoting and creating awareness about health care. But, will this work? This tax was imposed on 15th November 2015 This cess is levied as an indirect tax i.e it does not differentiate between people of high or low income levels and also is difficult to evade. Therefore for people of medium to low income levels..it affects the consumption and saving Patterns. Apart from that the swach bharat cess also reflects a poor image of our country’s public finance, where to provide cleanliness and basic sanitation to its citizens the government has to impose an additional cess!
India is one of the country which has the highest taxes and the country with one of the highest tax system imposing a cess to keep the country clean may not be perceived well by many.
As a academician I thought let me take the opinion of the youth so I organized a small debate in class to test if the newly imposed cess will create a positive mind-set and encourage citizens to keep their neighbourhood clean !!!. The students came out with shocking statements like many people would perceive this cess as a service fee which they are paying to the government to keep this country clean so why should I take the pain.
This almost got me thinking that ‘do we need this new cess?’
Is this a vicious cycle where government cleans the country and the citizens litter again and the cycle goes on!!!
So maybe we don’t need a ‘swach bharat cess’ instead we need a ‘swach bharat mind-set’! You don’t like to clean things up? Fine. At least try not to make it dirtier. Use garbage bins. Many might say, ‘Ya ya don’t get started’, we have learnt this in our morals class, many might whine about how there are no garbage bins on the streets. You can easily find a dust bin in the city. There are government bins installed at places, you might find a bin outside a restaurant, even every panwalla keeps a bin now a days. These bins just go unnoticed or one is hesitant to use the bin as ne has not made any purchase from that panwalla. I personally feel the panwalla is an amazing channel to ensure cleanliness. After product, price, place and promotion he is the fifth P in the world of marketing. More than one Panwalla is present in every lane and if every panwalla has a dustbin and the government sensitise the masses the problem of cleanliness can be resolved to a great extent.
The debate in class had amazing outcomes few of the students recommended a “Swatch Baharat Amabssador program” (A youth volunteer Program to sensitise the citizens on swatchata). The youth is really excited to help and faculty members have to encourage and channelize the youth in the right direction. An Ashoka emblem certificate signed by the Honourable Prime minister of the country itself will be a great motivator for the youth to come forward and take the cause of cleanliness. I am aware the NSS and NCC wings of various colleges are propagating the cause of swach bahart, however an ambassador program encourages the youth to aspire to this new cause and not one of the cause. Well next time maybe when you’re walking down the street and you finish your packet of chips. Try holding on to the wrapper, keep it in your hands, your eagerness to free your hands will find you a dustbin within 10 minutes. I can assure you that!! So let’s get things right people!
Let’s maintain our surroundings, let’s make our ‘Bharat’, ‘Swach Bharat’ and Who knows, if the government might just get done away with this new cess if it feels it’s not needed anymore.
If you have any reflections or opinion please feel free to comment below.
Dr. Navin Punjabi is an Assistant Professor at H R College of Commerce & Economics and visiting faculty at leading institutes like BSE Training Institute, NITIE and other leading B-Schools. He can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow him on www.navinpunjabi.com