A Doctor's " Pahal Ek Prayas" makes "Swachh Meerut" a reality
January 26th , 2019 | Dr.Vishwajeet Bembi
Selfless service is our Indian culture
I am Dr. Vishwajeet Bembi. I have done MD in Internal Medicine. I am a doctor not by chance but through my earnest efforts and a vision given by my parents. I was born in a small town Mawana which is 100 km from Delhi in a middle class family.
I am a proud Indian who always want to live & die for the country. During my school days I used to sing patriotic poems. My teacher mother always gave me values to wish “ram ram/ namaste” to our sweeper, servents, peons, elders daily. I had grown up playing in the field of dust and kutchra all around. It never bothered me. As I was grown up I found myself also a part of Indian attitude of ignoring cleanliness and violating rules and law.
I am very fond of visiting new places. First I use to visit different cities of different states in india but after coming in to the successful practice I use to go foreign countries as well, when I use to compare foreign cities with those of Indian cities I found only one option either to curse india and Indian citizens or to do something for the nation and for my people.
Once I had gone darjeling in the month of may and i had seen people doing shramdaan cleaning the track of toy train. when I enquired I came to know that these are the volunteers of “saisevasamiti” who do this kind of seva every year to save the railway track, life line of Darjeeling which attracts tourists thus provide them bread & butter.. the idea behind pahal is sewa i.e. Selflessness service which is an important and integral part of Indian culture and all the religions.
Jannani Janmbhoomishch Swagdapi Gareeyasi
The Pahal was incubated with the idea of distributing toffees to children of those patients who come to consult me at my clinic. Myself and my employees used to give toffees to children and ask them to put the wrappers in the trash bin with the instruction to their parents to put a dustbin at their respective places. But I felt after many years I will have to do something more as this effort is a drop in the ocean so I discussed the idea of सेवा एंड श्रमदान with few of my likeminded friends and we started Pahal on 26th January 2014. But while opening a bank account we realized that we should get registered as an NGO. The procedures started in March and officially Pahal was born on June 15th 2014 when we got the registration certificate.
The motto of Pahal is “Jannani Janmbhoomishch swargdapi gareeyasi”
Logo of Pahal signifies that we are against casteism and we can do the designated work of 4th class also. Right foot is considered auspiscious in our culture also. We want to change the attitude of Indian people that it is my right to litter and it is the duty of the sweeper to clean it. We say that if garbage has been generated by you then it is your duty to dispose it off.
This was a question how to sensitise common people about cleanliness? We decided first to do it ourselves and then request others to follow it and keep their surroundings clean by shramdaan. We had started when swachch bharat abhiyan was not started. After registration first we started picking up the litter while wearing gloves and taking all safety measures and decided to do shramdaan for 2-3 hours every sunday
Though we had a feeling of patriotic self satisfaction but we realized something more to be done as passer bys considered us to be government employees.
Then we started colouring with cheap terracotta powdered paint. Soon few of the volunteers formed a spade brigade while other volunteers took the responsibility of broom brigade and colouring brigade. Everybody had chosen the respective regiment of their choice.
Creating Awareness and cleaning environment
By the use of Facebook page Whatsapp group and through SMS everybody got information of the coming spot. Through Facebook we came to know about others doing the same job with similar ideas. We continued to take inspiration from each other’s ideas and work.
Then we decided of forming a core committee to handle the responsibilities, disputes and taking some constructive measures and crucial decisions regarding Pahal. We used to appoint Captains for each spot and core committee gave the responsibilities to few dedicated full week volunteers. The core committee decided that only Captains and Press spokesperson will be entitled to give their names to Press. I didn’t want to publicize my name but I knew that to achieve our goal the support of media is must to spread the awareness as we are not here to replace or to fight government civic bodies.
As we were growing we discovered an idea of arranging finances through membership fee. We never demanded donations from anybody and we never kept membership compulsory for everybody but our finances are met out through membership fee which is 100 rupees for students, 500 rupees for ordinary members and 2000 rupees for life members. Only life members can go to core committee which changes in every 3 months. We collected money by installing dustbins in many localities which we have stopped now as municipal corporation has installed a lot of dustbins in Meerut.
Now people began to recognize Pahal volunteers and participation of volunteers also began to increase but experience makes a man perfect. We realized Political aspirants and young student leaders, coaching centers and advertisers were not ready to mend their ways and they pasted posters on our painted walls. Then we realized that we are not going to yield anything by just colouring the walls. We decided to write slogans on these coloured walls and here begins the formation of DnA i.e. drawing and arts team. This name was given by 2 Msc Chemistry students who along with few doctors chose to make warli art on these coloured walls. Warli art is simple and India’s ancient tribal art which attracted everyone and thus gave identity to PahalDnA team.
Pahal - Ever growing family and its dictums
As the family was growing the core committee decided to keep it disciplined. Here I would like to tell you that till now we have completed 107 spots without any break consistently. We reminded our volunteers of few dictums.
Pahal na kabhi kisi ke liye rukegi, na kabhi kisi keliye jhukegi, na kabhi kisi ke liye intazaar karegi..
Aap samaj sudharne nikle ho to sabse pahle khud ko sudhare.
Pahal ek non political, non profitable organization hai jo jaat paat vishwas nahi rakhti. It is a medium of expression of our kind of patriotism for our nation.
As the time passed by our consistent efforts brought more volunteers to Pahal family.
The level of spotfix has also risen remarkably. First we plan on every Friday then we install dustbins, benches, swings etc. we do plantation and make paintings on these spots and care for them afterwards too. I am glad to announce that anywhere where few locals have joined us are doing farely well and these spots are more than 75% in number. As every house needs cleaning daily we too visit our spots after few months as and when required.
People in our circles recognized selfless efforts of Pahal and used to give credit and respect to Pahal’s spots. The daughter in law and son of mayor became our proud volunteers. A municipal corporation van was sent by mayor to rescue the garbage on each spot. Through social media we got recognition from ndtv’s cleanathon programme hosted by shri amitabh bachchan and pahal featured in mann ki baat of PM at dd news in January 2016. VIPs like our MP, our mayor, cantt board CEO, MLAs, Commissioner, political leaders, DMs wife, commissioner’s wife, Asian bronze medal winner, National award winner, 3 Guiness book of world record holders joined us in shramdaan as pahal volunteer.
We have our target focused on the younger generation. Till now we have gone to 26 different schools as pahal sensitization programme through which we show a PPT presentation with few short videos to encourage them for cleanliness.
On national holidays we plan shramdaan and awareness marchpast to sensitise general public about cleanliness.
Till now we have covered and did shramdaan at nariinketan and one orphanage.
In the rainy season we do plantation drive and do shramdaan in parks especially.
We have visited 2 villages also.
Nirmal Ganga Abhiyan
Once we were doing shramdaan in a parking we noticed few broken statues and other religious material lying under peepal trees. Here we decided to start a nirmal ganga abhiyan in which we installed holy bins in 10 temples where priests gave their consents to co operate. We asked the priests to incinerate the religious material on the first Sunday of every month while idols can be buried near any river. We offered them our help if they send broken idols at pahal office. Though the attitude of priests was not co operative but few under pressure agreed. Till now despite our efforts we could install holy bins only in 10 temples.
We are against discrimination based on caste creed colour and poltical beliefs.
To fight against casteism we honour sweepers sometimes of the locality.
We do sahbhoj where all the volunteers bring vegetarian prescribed food from their homes and all eat each others food together.
When we go to poor localities, we make the children understand the importance of personal hygiene. Sometimes we give them a bath, cut their nails and give them gifts.
Despite doing selfless work and spending money from our pocket, we are discouraged by some by questioning our motive
First we were baffled with these comments but now we have become mature to take them easy and laugh upon their thinking.
The author of the story is the Founder of Pahal-Ek Prayas initiative and can be reached on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pahalekprayas.meerut/
InwasteR is only a platform to share WaStory and the views and experience are purely of the author.