‘Saaf’, the Hindi word for ‘clean’, is Shammy Jacob’s audacious idea. His project aims to inspire Indians to respect and care for common spaces, and to introduce waste management systems and cultural change to reinstate the pristine and pure beauty of India’s railway corridor. With his goal already in sight, Shammy was among the first group of leaders to join us at THNK.
Was your vision of a cleaner landscape born on a train?
It was. The train corridors in India are a spectacle, with an unimaginable amount of trash. Every time I travelled there, I was appalled by the state of public spaces. I was already working to integrate integrity into business models and systems, and decided that I had to come back and do something. I didn’t put a lot of thought as to the ‘how’. I just had a feeling. It’s a straightforward goal, but I knew it would be difficult. The solutions are apparent, but not in India. Not culturally. When you have 200,000 daily riders, dustbins along the platforms won’t be enough. We need to tell a story to those 200,000 people. We need to get them on board with us.