Eminent personalities lack a seriouscommitment to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
It is nearly five years since Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign. The country appears to have failed to achieve the desired results, except in a few places. The campaign was led by the Prime Minister himself. Top personalities in various walks of life were seen sweeping roads and floors with long brooms. One such drive was held recently in the Parliament complex in which several Bharatiya Janata Party MPs including Bollywood actress Hema Malini took part. Videos of cleanliness drive in which Hema Malini participated went viral as people noted that there was no genuineness in her act in cleanliness drive. Other participants also failed to bring convincing genuineness in their action. Many dubbed the exercise as a photo-op; Hema Malini was trolled by many including her own husband Dharmendra who described her act as that of a novice. The cleanliness issue being a serious and ambitious one, it is time that those organizing and participating in such drives show seriousness and commitment to the mission.
It is pertinent to note that though a large amount of money has been spent on advertisements to create awareness on maintenance of cleanliness among people the results have not been encouraging. Have the authorities at various levels tried to find out the reasons why the drives have not been successful? One of the reasons for the failure of the cleanliness mission is that people see no serious commitment in the politicians and celebrities to the broomstick. And they are supposed to be the torch bearers of the campaign. There is feeling among people that cleanliness drives featuring eminent persons are stage managed. The way they turn out in the street in clean ironed clothes, shoes and gloves does not inspire confidence among people that they really have any serious engagement with the campaign; they think they only do it because it is a good cause and the Prime Minister is watching. The mission can succeed only if there is greater participation of common people who face and deal with the problems of squalor in their daily lives. It is time that governments encouraged grassroots leaders to lead the cleanliness mission. Incentives should be given to those who show results in maintaining cleanliness in their areas.
Why are cleanliness drives conducted in the Parliament complex and central and state government offices where there are hundreds of employees already on the payroll for keeping the premises clean? By carrying out cleanliness drives inside and outside these premises are they sending out a message to the world that these places are left full of garbage by the staff assigned the responsibility and that it is our ministers and MPs and MLAs who are doing the cleaning work there. The safai employees are taking their salary for not doing anything! The leaders should go with the brooms and other cleaning materials to the dirty places in their constituencies and clean them with the help of local people. Our elected representatives should work towards being seen as good leaders rather than good actors. Photos with broomstick in newspapers might help them gain points with their supreme leaders, but it will not take the cleanliness mission any farther.
Just preaching cleanliness will not help India become “swachh”. It is for every Indian to be part of cleanliness drive. Dirty surroundings lead to outbreak of communicable diseases. People have to be convinced through community teaching on the need to maintain hygiene in surroundings and to keep themselves healthy. A part of the money set aside for advertisements regarding the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan could be used to reward the communities that keep their surroundings clean. Another part of money for advertisement could also be used for construction of toilets to help those who cannot afford their contribution for toilets and continue to defecate in open. Such incentives would attract support of the communities for the mission. If elected representatives have real commitment to the cause they should make their contributions without any glare of lights and cameras. They should devote themselves to helping governments in sorting out the complex infrastructural, cultural, legal and family issues that come in the way of the success of the mission.