The one thing which we can and must learn from the West is the science of municipal sanitation. The peoples of the West have evolved a science of corporate sanitation and hygiene from which we have much to learn. We must modify western methods of sanitation to suit our requirements.
Young India, 26-12-‘24
‘Cleanliness is next to godliness.’ We can no more gain God’s blessing with an unclean body than with an unclean mind. A clean body cannot reside in an unclean city.
Young India, 19-11-‘25
No municipality can cope with insanitation and congestion by the simple process of taxation and paid services. This vital reform is possible only by whole-sale and voluntary co-operation of the people both rich and poor.
Young India, 26-11-‘25
It is not enough that we clear the villages which are occupied by our Parish brethren. They are amenable to reason and persuasion. Shall we have to say that the so called higher classes are not equally amenable to reason and persuasion and to hygienic laws which are indispensible in order to live a city-life? In a village we may do many things with impunity but immediately we transfer ourselves to crowded streets where we have hardly air to breathe, the life become changed, and we have to obey another set of laws which immediately come into being. Do we do that? It is no use saddling the municipality with the responsibilities for the condition in which we find…the central parts of every city in able to over-ride the habits of a class of people handed suggest that it is a question of sanitary reform in these big cities, which will be a hopeless task if we expect our municipalities to do this unaided by this voluntary work. Far be it from me to absolve the municipalities from their responsibilities.
Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, pp. 375-76
I consider myself a lover of municipal life. I think that it is a rare privilege for a person to find himself in the position of a municipal councilor but let me not down for you as a man with some experience in public life that one indispensable condition of that privilege is that the municipal councilors dare not approach their office from interested or selfish motives. They must approach their sacred task in a spirit of service. They should pride themselves upon calling themselves scavengers. There is a significant expression for municipal corporation in my mother tongue – Kachrapatti, which means literally scavenging department, and a municipality is nothing if it is not a premier scavenging department embracing all spheres of public and social life of a city and if it is not saturated with the spirit scavenging, scavenging not merely by way looking after the physical sanitation of a city, but also the internal sanitation of its citizens.
Young India, 28-3-‘29
If I were a taxpayer within the jurisdiction of a local board or a municipality, I would refuse to pay a single pie by way of additional taxation and advise others to do likewise unless the money we pay is returned four-fold. Those who enter local boards and municipalities as representatives go there not to seek honour or to indulge in mutual rivalries, but to render a service of love and that does not depend upon money. Ours is pauper country. If our municipal councilors are imbued with a real spirit of service, they will convert themselves into unpaid sweepers, bhangis and road-makers, and take pride a in doing so. They will invite their fellow-councilor, who may not have come on the Congress ticket, to join them and if they have faith in themselves and their mission, their example will not fail to evoke response. This means that a municipal councilor has to be a whole timer. He should have no axe of his own to grind. The next step would be asked to make their contribution to municipal activities. A regular register should be maintained. Those who are too poor to make any money contribution but are able-bodied and physically fit can be asked to give their free labour.
If night-soil was properly utilized, we would get manure worth lakhs of rupees and also secure immunity from a number of diseases. By our bad habits we spoil our sacred river banks and furnish excellent breeding grounds for flies, with the result that the very flies which through our criminal negligence settle upon uncovered night-soil defile our bodies after we have bathed. A small spade is the means of salvation from a great nuisance. Leaving night-soil, cleaning the nose, or spitting on the road is a sin against God as well as humanity, and betrays a sad want of consideration for others. The Man who does not cover his waste deserves a heavy penalty even if he lives in a forest.
Satyagraha in South Africa, p.240