It should not stop here

This cleanliness drive and broom saga has been started by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP); topi and broom were their signatures. However, later BJP hijacked their topi ‘funda’ and changed its colour to saffron, and finally yesterday Modi held their broom to announce “Swachh Bharat”. Few days back, a union minister held the broom in public. Now, the PM is holding the broom in public. Soon, CMs and Collectors will be holding it in public. I hope, this event will not remain just as symbolic gestures or cosmetic efforts to pose for cameras and grab the limelight for a day. If the politicians and IAS officers don’t grab the money allotted for keeping the city clean, why will the ‘Clean Up Marshalls’ will not keep the city clean? Clean India is very good initiative; however, not only cleaning but proper disposal, decomposition and utilisation of garbage, sewage must also be in focus. A course on garbage management should also be implemented in academics to study the future challenges of garbage and sanitation. Government should provide land for building public toilets. Planning department should allocate sufficient funds, initiative should start from top. The town planning should ensure that there is sufficient number of garbage bins and proper drainage system. Clean India will be healthy and prosperous India. But the cleanliness campaign must not be just a superficial exercise. Focus is also needed to raise the living standard of people who are on the cleaning mission. Contract based cleaning should be banned and action should be taken against workers of the municipal corporations if they don’t workers as per guidelines, demand and need. Corruption had been another issue in municipal corporations due to contract system, which should also be eyed on. Then only a true clean India can be achieved.

Fortunately, even Mahatma Gandhi has suddenly come into lime-light. Otherwise, he was always on hate list of Modi’s supporters. Even if it be for populist exposition, the beginning of at least one of the different things for which Gandhiji and all our Freedom fighters sacrificed their everything and brought Freedom to India from the rules of the British, is a right step indeed. Gandhiji’s biggest concept was the Village Development – with India having over 638,000 villages and even after 67 years (since independence) nothing much has been done to create better living conditions in almost 100 per cent of these villages. Providing toilets to villagers is a laudable concept but when they do not have enough water even to drink and cook food, what can they do to clean toilets? We are still talking (and acting) much more than actual deliverance is needed at the ground level.

“Swachh Bharat Mission” is Prime Minister’s vision and a pledge of every Indian. Thousands of people and hundreds of organisations are coming under one roof to make this vision a reality and make India completely clean by 2019. Making an appeal for a non-political movement driven by patriotism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat, or Clean India Mission on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The Mission will aim to make India ‘clean’ by October 2, 2019, Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. This goal will include the elimination of open defecation, which he called a “blot on society”, especially for women and young girls.

It is important for the people to realise that its success lies in their hands, Modi and his government can do this with encouragment and support of the people. This won’t work if we won’t actively participate in keeping our homes and our local communities clean. And it won’t work if we won’t commit to changing our old habits. No more careless litter, spitting in public etc. This is more a change in lifestyle than a movement. More than garbage, the issue which we are facing is spitting in public places, it is the single cause for most of the health problems in our country. There should be a spit ban. Spitting is done by both rich and poor, we see many educated and well groomed people spitting red blobs out of their posh cars literally painting the road red. It is worse than garbage. While doing such Mass Cleaning, all should be wearing Personal Protective Equipment like nose mask, hand gloves and wherever necessary even eye goggles. Trash bags/bins have to keep ready and a common place for dumping of waste has to be decided in advance from where it would be picked up later. Planning ahead always helps.

“Bapu gave us the message ‘Quit India. Clean India’, but his ‘Clean India’ dream is still unfulfilled. Modi said it in Hindi. Referring to the winning logo, which features Mahatma Gandhi’s round-rimmed spectacles, Modi said, “When I saw that logo, I felt as if Gandhiji is looking at us through those spectacles to see if we have made India clean yet.” He asked his countrymen to give Gandhi the gift of a clean India for his 150th birth anniversary. ‘I am confident that Clean India will give us as much joy as Quit India. Trying to strike a non-political note, Modi said that patriotism and not politics should inspire the mission. Cleanliness should not be the job of sanitation workers alone. Apart from crowd-sourcing the logo and slogan for the Mission, Modi also asked citizens to take photos of garbage, upload them on social media, upload videos of them cleaning the spot, and finally upload a picture of the clean spot.

Modiji’s this initiative is really worth applauding, provided if it does’t stop here itself as a formality for one day.