for BBC News on Oct. 7, 2011
A small village in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya has become the envy of its neighbors.
Large crowds of visitors have been thronging to the village curious to find out why Mawlynnong has earned the reputation for being arguably the cleanest and best educated in India - all its residents can read and write and each house has a toilet.
That is no mean achievement in a country that is still struggling to educate its population and address basic water and sanitation issues.
About 90km (55 miles) from the state capital Shillong and barely 4km (2.4 miles) from the Bangladeshi border, Mawlynnong is much loved by its inhabitants who work hard to keep it clean.
It is five in the morning and pouring with rain. But that does not deter a group of volunteers in the village from rising early to sweep the roads. It is a process that is repeated several times a day.
"Some cleaners have been hired by the village council to sweep the roads - but many villagers take turns to make sure they are swept several times a day because it is not possible to pay so many people," says young volunteer Henry Khyrrum.
The streets are all dotted with dustbins made of bamboo. Every piece of litter and almost every leaf that has fallen from a tree is immediately discarded.
Plastic bags are completely banned and all waste disposal is environmentally friendly. Rubbish is thrown into a pit dug in a forest near the village where it is left to turn into compost.
The villagers here say that lessons in hygiene start in school so that children can be taught from an early age how to keep their surroundings clean and green.
Mawlynnong is one of the wettest parts of the country - and while many parts of India are suffering under drought-like conditions this year, the south-western
monsoon has not disappointed the north-east.
While the supply of clean water and sanitation is a huge problem in India's teeming cities, it is an even bigger challenge for the authorities in the country's villages where these facilities are almost non-existent.
Keeping it clean now comes naturally to most people here. The village headman says the village council - or Darbar - maintains very strict discipline.
Read more: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8259789.stm