Make urinating in public an offence, Gandhi wrote in 1925

New Delhi : Mahatma Gandhi, a strong votary of hygiene and cleanliness, came out against the obnoxious Indian male habit of urinating in the open nearly 90 years ago. “To pass urine anywhere on a street, at any place not meant for the purpose should be regarded an offence”, Gandhi wrote in an article titled ‘Our Dirty Ways’ in the Sep 13, 1925 issue of ‘Navajivan’ weekly.

During India’s freedom movement, he spent hours denouncing the ‘dirty ways’ of Indians and appealing to them embrace healthy habits. PM Narendra Modi is appropriately invoking Gandhi to launch the ‘Clean India’ movement.

Here are some excerpts from his writings on the subject on which he felt strongly:

“No one should spit or clean his nose on the streets. In some cases the sputum is so harmful that the germs are carried from it and they infect others. Those who spit after chewing betel leaves and tobacco have no consideration for the feelings of others… Near the village or dwellings, there should be no ditches in which water can collect. Mosquitoes do not breed where water does not stagnate.” (Navajivan, Nov 2, 1919)


“I learnt 35 years ago that a lavatory must be as clean as a drawing room. I learnt this in the West. I believe that many rules about cleanliness in lavatories are observed more scrupulously in the West… The cause of many of our diseases is the condition of our lavatories and our bad habit of disposing of excreta anywhere and everywhere.” (Navajivan, May 24, 1925)


“Both excretory functions should be performed only at fixed places. To pass urine anywhere on a street, at any place not meant for the purpose should be regarded an offence… Lavatories should be kept very clean. Even the part through which the water flows should be kept clean… Our lavatories bring our civilization into discredit, they violate the rules of hygiene.” (Navajivan, Sep 13, 1925)


“Village tanks are promiscuously used for bathing, washing clothes and drinking and cooking purposes. Many village tanks are also used by cattle. Buffaloes are often to be seen wallowing in them. The wonder is that, inspite of this sinful misuse of village tanks, villages have not been destroyed by epidemics. It is the universal medical evidence that this neglect to ensure purity of the water supply of villages is responsible for many of the diseases suffered by the villagers.” (Harijan, Feb 8, 1935)

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