"Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness"
Whoever said the above words, probably was too myopic to realize, hygiene could be best associated with just piety and nothing more tangible.
It all started in the month of December, when western India's most famous B School, passed on the challenge of Swacch Bharat Campus Drive to XLRI, Jamshedpur. Now there would have been a few who would have thought that may be a few brooms and some quidditch later, we would have passed it on to another campus, but the Marketing Association of XLRI (MAXI) had other plans in mind.
As a part of the MAXI Fair Administration Team, we realized that a clean drive in campus was not enough for a B school whose motto is “For the Greater Good”. We needed to set an example, inspire and more importantly carry forward the message to as many as we can, that hygiene is paramount for the nation’s welfare, above all the big words like GDP etc. we learn in our classrooms.
Now ever since Wankhede 2011, Sri Lanka has somehow been our favourite opponent and this time was no different. A hand washing relay record which was held by them at 650 was to be broken, once again we were chasing, but our revised target was not 651, but 1000.
The entire MAXI Team along with a motivated bunch of volunteers decided to rise to the occasion just like M S Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir to ensure the target was reached. The following lines will be a highlights of this nail biting chase, and of course a perspective of how it feels to be victorious.
I personally remember an octogenarian couple, who had come to help us set the record, a little boy who couldn't reach the wash basin without help, a small girl who was so overwhelmed by the stage lights that she ran back to her mother for an assuring hug.
1000 is an overwhelming number and being in charge of counting, I was witness to a large majority of these people signing their names right in front of me. Some hands trembled in excitement of their first shot at glory, some hands were steady in pride of being part of a world record attempt, and some hands covertly touched the ink pad for a thumb impression in embarrassment, while some really tiny hands scribbled their initials from the newly learned alphabets. A diverse range of people made the record possible, the final count of 991, is a true representation of our country, a vast concoction of human representation, united and undivided in spirit.
However it was not just a 1000 on a particular afternoon that can change a nation can it? It is much more and thus over the same week, we involved multiple schools in Jamshedpur to join us in the cleaning drive. The team went to various schools and along with the school children they de-littered their courtyards, playgrounds and each of their small efforts cumulated together for the ultimate aim: A Cleaner Nation.
It was a monumental effort by MAXI XLRI to arrange for tee shirts and Dettol hygiene kits for all its participants by roping in RB India as a sponsor for the event, it was even more difficult for the team of 20 young students to manage of crowd of 1000, coaxing them to be patient, taking care of their needs while keeping the relay running with a mere 10 second gap between each hand wash as per guidelines. The Guinness guidelines are extremely stringent, and it took our entire team multiple Dry Runs, which was ironical in a hand washing relay, to get it right on the final day.
They say when the going gets tough, the tough gets going and probably that is the only reason why, the Grand Daddy of all committees at XLRI, MAXI could essentially pull it off, using over 40 years of experience to pull off a logistical nightmare. From traveling around the city informing the Jampot crowd about the World Record Attempt, to keeping a count of each pair of hand washed and providing certificates on spot to each participant, seems too difficult to be true, but looking back, we did it, MAXI achieved what it set out do, be insanely different.
The Merchants of Awesomeness didn't disappoint, we beat Sri Lanka to the World Record and achieved 991 as the official number for the hand washing relay, 9 short of 1000, but that is what probably makes MAXI mortal and allows us to be motivated to achieve greater feats in the future but then again, it is so easy to get carried away by the success, and start believing that a world record in Hand Washing Relay makes us the uncrowned kings of hygiene, makes us agents of change overnight. It is so simple to forget that a laminated certificate is not sufficient to cleanse a country. A Guinness World Record is our small contribution to a cleaner India, a small step as a responsible citizen of tomorrow, but the giant leap for Indians can come, through us all. It is only when each one of us start believing that the real world record would be when India is called the cleanest country in the world, when cholera and malaria shall not haunt our families, that we should be proud. It is only then that our initiative would be fruitful.
Watch The Video Here: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan XLRI Jamshedpur