Swachh Bharat Campaign: Success or a Failure?

On the very outside let me quote “Success is a path and not the destination”.

The 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas K. Gandhi saw most of the Indians, from one-and-a-quarter-billion, sheepishly asking themselves “What is the earliest this absurdity stops?”

It was just another day and I was on a railway platform on way to my hometown and suddenly I saw scores of schoolchildren, mostly girls, thronged the station premises armed with brooms, waste bins etc and enthusiastically cleaning the premises of all the dirt and debris lying here and there. I promptly said to myself: this is another useless attempt to make the area clean as it won’t look any better tomorrow.

Let me first delve deeper into the question “Why is India one of the dirtiest countries in the world?” First and foremost, indifference on the part of general people, from elites to destitutes, to keep it clean. Second, inaccessibility of a large section of our society to household or community toilets. Third, incompetence on the part of municipal employees and the other concerned government departments to carry out their day-to-day jobs. And fourth, lack of funds allocated to the municipalities and various sanitation departments.

Addressing the first part, we Indians have become so habituated to the sight of all the mess around us for such a long time that we have accepted it as a way of life. No one is daring enough to do what is right and just carries on contributing his own part to forward this legacy onto the society. Some argument, people are not aware enough and India would be clean if we organise awareness campaigns. I ask such people how is it that they know to keep their homes and front yards clean but have different thoughts otherwise. It’s just blind intuition that people know what is right but have turned a blind eye to. I often wonder why is it some Indians have double standards for western nations and our own country. They ape everything from western culture; western clothes, western music, western food and almost anything that is western. When they visit western countries they are filled with awe with their cleanliness but when it comes to India, they say it just can’t be done and carry on like the other resigned Indians.

Now, what did our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Mr. Modi, do to address the first part? He did what no other Indian could do since the Independence: he made people think second time before spreading garbage, the first time is our inner voice which I talked about. He made people acknowledge that inner voice which had been suppressed for too long. He made people TALK about it. He aroused them from their wishful thinking and asked each person to do only their own little part to help make India clean.

Secondly, I would start by saying “equality is a hilarious and dubious concept in our constitution”.

Indians are anything but equal. A small glimpse would be the staggering number of Indians (it is 550 million out of 1.25 billion) who still defecate in public due to lack of a thing as basic as a household toilet or even a community toilet, even after 67 years of so called rule of “ ‘Off’ the people, ‘Far’ the people & ‘Buy’ the people”. And it’s not just lack of toilets but also a behavioural and cultural problem.

The Clean India Campaign aims to provide 100% coverage to building individual household and community toilets in two years, allocating Rs.4820 Crores for the same. It also includes providing public toilets in all the 4041 statutory towns in India through Public-private partnership. A massive awareness campaign has been launched collectively by the government, media, NGOs, schools, colleges and other such institutions to motivate and persuade the people to use toilets by associating it with dignity and safety.

Third argument is that the municipal departments are not doing their jobs well enough. Indeed this argument is correct for the most part as the roads and streets are cleaned only when a dignitary is going to come across it. The work is done almost half-heartedly.

Modi has tightened the noose around municipal employees and is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that they ruddy well do their jobs.

Fourth point is the lack of funds.
The municipality and other sanitation departments have often complained lack of funds to arrange for the manpower, equipment and other resources to keep their wheels in motion. The government has pledged Rs.9803 Crores for solid waste management, public awareness and capacity building & administration expenses. They better tighten their belts now and get down to their jobs.

The peculiar thing about most of the Indians is though they have legally got a right to vote for their leader they have raised their thought system at par. We became citizens long before 60 years but we still have the mentality of a subject. We only like to put all the blame to everything not right to the government. It is high time now that the people should realise that as a citizen we have certain rights as well as obligations. Before cribbing about not getting to enjoy all the innumerous rights given to us, we must fulfil our obligations to the country and constitution which at the very least gives us the most fundamental right of speech, bereft which let me assure you, we will live in a constant state of insecurity and consternation.

It’s barely been 70 days since the launch of this campaign that some people are ready to fight to brand it a failure. To seal such lips I am going to quote the amount this campaign is going to invest in the next 5 years: it is 10 billion US dollars.

Plus this campaign is only the tip of the iceberg, the first small step towards a momentous task whose success depends only upon the small steps taken by all the Indians individually and unitedly.

The best thing this campaign has done is to target ground level participation of citizens to involve in this campaign. For the critics who say the initial enthusiasm has fizzled down, they should look at the sheer number of schools and colleges who are embracing the campaign. By involving schoolchildren we can at the very least ensure that the new generation will create their own clean world and not carry forward the garbage-legacy of the previous generations. For they are not only the future but also the present. And isn’t our future defined by the present, for it is all we have ?

This article was written by my friend: “CHANDRA BHUSHAN”.

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