You can see a broom which became the trademark of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) one year ago, nowadays everybody irrespective of whether they are politicians (Read Modi, Pawar, Smriti Irani) or celebrities (Read: Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan) hold brooms in their hands and start cleaning the streets. I don’t know whether these personalities had ever even cleaned their own house in the near future. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is known for his public relations skills offered an opportunity to others for photoshoot with broom in hands.
If you are not agreeing with me then please rethink about it. Whether it is mid-night or 3 am in the morning, you will find press photographers around these celebrities, when they come out of their homes for cleaning the streets. Shining and newly-purchased broom sticks and politicians, businessmen, officials and celebrities clad in clean, and often expensive, clothes. Can some coherency be found between the two? Well, in the present context, yes.
The ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ invoked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make the country cleaner, tidier, litter free, fully sanitised and free from open defecation seems to be turning out into a photo opportunity. The incidents of streets being littered so that the ‘symbolism’ can be expressed and presented to the people, too have come to the fore. It seems more of an imagery and symbolism and less of giving thought to.
I’m not against the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ either I’m impressed by the PM that he has taken so much pain to initiate this mission after a long journey from USA to India. I’m in favour of cleanliness as I was taught in my school that ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ and clean environment makes you healthy so there is another proverb, Health is Wealth. And who doesn’t want to be wealthy. Yes, I forget to mention one more reason why I support this mission because it was initiated on my birthday (2nd October) along with Gandhiji and Shastriji.
However, the Prime Minister, celebrities and stars with broom sticks in their hands gives an elaborative message on the relevance of the issue. But no attention is given to the safai karamcharis (sanitation workers) who are assigned this important task. While the public participation and awareness, as sought under the mission to make it successful, is laudable, that alone is insufficient.
I’m happy that everybody irrespective of their caste, creed and community in India is taking broom in their hands, and not only my ‘Bhauji’s’ community. We fondly call ‘Bhauji’ to our mehtaranin (a woman from the Mehtar community, who used to clean our village). India being a caste-based society, people from a particular community have been performing the task of cleaning the nation for centuries. If this mission has to become successful, reforms have to be brought in for ‘their’ recruitment, training, remuneration and regularisation.
A large number of people belonging to this community are employed on contractual basis in different municipal corporations and hence are deprived of social security benefits and significant remuneration from a long period of time. Cleanliness is not a one-time job rather a continuous process. Modi has created the awareness about cleanliness but to continue it or to make the mission successful totally depends upon citizens. A continuity in the work, efforts and commitment is the key to keep the country clean. Sustained efforts will be required to bring about reforms as well to make the drive a success in the long run.
The technology and innovation will help cater to the health issues of the sanitation workers that they are vulnerable and prone to owing to their nature of work, particularly with regard to cleaning of gutters and clogged drains.
Unless these issues are addressed, the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, which is a restructure of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, will not achieve its end goal i.e. to make a clean break with the past and leading to India with cleaner surroundings and thoughts. Awareness is necessary, but these celebrities search leave no stone unturned to gain publicity on every occasion. As a result of this the relevance of the mission gets diluted.