When one speaks of India, one of the images that often comes to mind is the slums and the overall dirt that seem to be everywhere. However, this is not the case with Mawlynnong, a tiny village in the state of Meghalaya that has been dubbed the cleanest Indian village in the entire country.
The cleanest village in India
As to the secret of how the village keeps itself clean, it essentially boils down to the nature of the people. The residents of the village place a very high value on cleanliness rather than on any sort of grandeur. “Cleanliness has more value than material wealth… It’s what people see, it’s what they talk about, it’s what they exchange compliments over,” NPR quotes a woman from the village.
As such, it is not surprising that a community that values cleanliness so much has turned out to be the cleanest. The cleaning tradition reportedly started about 130 years ago when the village suffered through an outbreak of cholera. As a consequence, the people of those times implemented strict cleanliness habits in the community. And over the decades, this sense of personal and community cleanliness has been maintained vigorously by the villagers.
Children are trained to clean the streets from a young age. In fact, the kids clean them every single day before they go to school. There are wicker baskets located in several places where people can throw garbage. These are also usually emptied by the children. The community also employs a few women to clean on a daily basis.
The residents of Mawlynnong employ a very efficient waste management system. All biodegradable waste is either buried or used as manure in gardens. Non-biodegradable waste like plastic is never burned. Instead, it is reused in some form. In addition, open defecation is completely banned, with people strictly fined if caught doing so.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was so impressed on learning about the village that he mentioned their dedication during a radio program that addressed the need to maintain cleanliness in the country.
While being the “cleanest Indian village” has gained Mawlynnong fame across the country, it has also attracted a lot of tourists, bringing a unique set of problems.
“Now there is noise pollution. I’ve talked to the village council which has written to the government to build a new parking lot further away,” Phys.org quotes a guesthouse owner, while another person complains that “there’s no more privacy. A woman is washing her clothes, she’s being photographed… That social bond that binds the village together is disintegrating.”
But on the positive side, increased tourism has skyrocketed the incomes of the local people. According to the village headman, the average income of the residents has jumped by at least 60 percent since the influx of visitors began. As a consequence, people are now able to buy better food and clothing.
Now, all that is left to be done is for the villagers to find a perfect balance between keeping Mawlynnong clean and handling the hundreds of visitors that throng the place.