“Let me step forward an inch, let me wait until the last drop, for it’s a human that cleans what’s on the floor” read a board fixed in the gents’ urinals of my previous employer’s offices. I used to find it funny and always wondered if we, the 21st century techies, are so dumb to not take care of such basic hygiene. I learnt I was wrong.

Basic hygiene is something we lack among Indians. The world knows about the Swachcha Bharat Abhiyaan, a program to ensure a clean India. The program has special focus on clean streets and on putting an end to open defecation. Yes, a majority of rural India and to an extent, many urban Indians don’t have proper access to something as basic as a toilet. It’s the collective failure of India as a nation, something that can’t be attributed only to the government. The people are equally responsible for taking a personal hygiene initiative. 

Then we have the Namami Gange or Clean Ganges project that aims to clean one of the most polluted yet the most sacred river to majority of Indians. Lakes in cities are foaming and even catching fire while cities are trying to treat their sewage and transport them to rural areas in order to recharge dry lakes. Cities are dotted with litter – its nature ranging from plastic and paper to cowdung and horse-shit. So what does all this point to? That there’s something fundamentally wrong with us Indians.

Some of us cringe when advertisements on television featuring our favorite actors preach the benefits of building a toilet at home. The middle classes and the rich wonder if the technology savvy India is really that backward! We can place 104 satellites in their orbits with precision but can’t build toilets for half a billion people. 

Does that mean that the problem lies only among the economically weaker sections of the society? True, but partially.

The other half of the truth remains our general neglect towards hygiene. From our street food to our neighborhood. It’s not uncommon to see educated, well to do, car driving, Ray Ban toting babus and didis throwing garbage in the next available vacant plot. So do they at least fare well in the toilets? No, they don’t.

Toilet seats in our swanky corporate offices are left wet with water. Tissue papers are found on the floor. Some even leave pubic hair, I wonder what for!! And then, there are those who just forget to flush.

Ugh! I know you’re already regretting your decision of reading this post, but reality always bites hard! This is a normal scene in our software parks employing engineers and MBAs. A local 10th class pass wearing an ugly uniform and a surgical mask rids those seats of stains and hair strands because our degree holders and scientists don’t have the basic etiquette to do it themselves.

Imagine walking into a toilet room someone has just vacated to check if it has been flushed properly. Imagine pulling out a piece of tissue to ensure the seat is dry. Do you feel like throwing up now?

“Leave the toilet seat in a state you’d want to see it when you enter” read a board inside the toilet rooms. I really appreciate that board stuck on the walls of my previous employer’s offices. Which is why ensure I clean the mess before I leave. For it’s a human who has to clean what you leave behind.