How We Started
It was late evening, sometime in June 2014, when two close friends were taking a stroll along the National Botanical Garden of Sydney. Hunter green trees along the walking pathway were swaying in cool winter breeze (June-July is peak winters in Australia). Suddenly, their random discussions veered towards a topic which most Indians, who have seen developed world, whine about. More importantly, this was a topic which these two gentlemen closely associated with. And that was when an idea was born through a myriad of discussions on various topics but finally converging into one of the most pressing problems of their country – cleanliness.
While taking a stroll, engrossed in our discussion, we wondered why the developed countries were so neat and clean.
It is not that the developed world has thousands of people sweeping every corner of the city 24/7. It is also not because there are no throw-away packages.
The answer is simple – it is about society and the attitude of its people. Probably, there would be very few countries where the chief driver is enforcement, but in the majority, it is the self-discipline of its people. It is ingrained in the people’s psyche not to indulge in any act which causes folly. There are just a few scattered incidents occasionally, committed mainly by tourists.
After venting our frustration on the state of affairs, our focus meandered to finding solutions to these problems. We discussed the possibilities that can be exercised at an individual’s capacity – some thoughts that might help change our habits. In a nutshell, how can ‘Me’ and ‘U’ contribute?
As the first step of this journey, we created a Facebook page, and after some deliberation, we named it – ‘Change Starts from Me and U.’ Though a mouthful, at its heart, it calls for involvement through self-discipline (and preaching later).
This happened a few months before the then Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, called it out as a national movement, naming it Swachh Bharath (Clean India). A mission started by the Government of India in October 2014 and, over the years, has gained momentum with engaged participation from individuals, society, and corporates.
Over time, we have expanded our initiative to include more areas and pressing environmental and sustainability issues, and “Change Starts from Me and U” became ‘Change Started.’
Change Started is our small contribution towards making the world a better, cleaner, and greener place.
Hopefully, we will stop complaining and instead start participating in this journey.