October 15 is marked as Global handwashing day. Development agencies like UNICEF and WHO have been advocating it for many years now, and they starter marking this day, but were unable to reach masses, but with this Corona Virus, which taught all of us importance of handwashing and use of sanitizer. Use of sanitizer is new practice which people have learned more then the handwashing with soap. Anyway places where development agencies like UNICEF and WHO failed, virus taught us.

Handwashing indeed is a good hygiene practice which needs to be followed and practiced, but point to ponder is that why we failed to learn this practice and needed virus like Corona to teach us. Are our learning skills poor, not so, as India has huge education and learning potential, as seen by our IT work force across world. Come new technology and we adapt it fast. Be it SAP, processes or latest Whatsapp boom we are like world’s major user and misusers of it. But then why we failed in adapting handwashing practice. Was it the failure of these agencies like UNICEF and WHO or was it failure of the Government or was it the way it was pushed on us. Polio was example when it was pushed, we had resistance from people, so was handwashing. Handwashing has huge business interest, be it mega houses and now Indian companies, which produce soap and sanitizers. They did better then these agencies. Even today with Corona time, many still don’t wash their hands before eating food and after defecation, they may be doing it when they go out and come home.

I was travelling from Mumbai to Indore and spoke to hundreds of people, who still believe that handwashing does not eradicate corona, but it is Chinese virus. I remember I was part of municipal corporation training programme in Dewas, when someone from UNICEF came and taught all us about toilets and handwashing and told us to use work “Suman Kumari” to learn handwashing steps. Sadly they never though Suman is name in India and of girls and boys. Think of girl getting harassed by use of this name, as people call for her name, that happened in the programme. Agencies like them many a times don;t think as what they are teaching and they fail rather create divisions. And why use name with one religion. I wash my hands and tell everyone to do it. But I feel that why we missed learning it earlier, we did not needed Corona to teach us. It is true that handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections. People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick or prone to Corona. In addition to fighting Corona, removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections. Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy, time we understand this and learn it. You don’t need external agencies and multinational companies to teach us this.

Krishan Kumar – I write on developmental and social issues, based in Mumbai and Indore. I am an social activist, like to question, search for evidence and now doing analysis on media writings. I had written earlier for countercurrents many years back and now wish to revive the same


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