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Contemplating Gandhi’s Dream Modi Style

Updated: October 15, 2014 2:23 pm

The number of sceptics must be huge, but the mission is the first pragmatic step by the Modi government to really and visibly connect with the people. It will help Modi personally, who has been virulently criticised for not implementing the promises he made during his campaigns in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections

Narendra Modi explained his concept of Swachh Bharat, of a clean India, at Madison Square Garden extravaganza showcasing the American Indian community’s success, its cohesion and its capability to influence the US administration. Gandhiji gave us our freedom, Modi said, and then asked what we have given him.

“Let us give him on his 150th birth anniversary a Swachh India (a clean India) which he visualised.” He then outlined his scheme Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which he launched in New Delhi on October 2. If he can pull-off this mission, he would carve a healthier, hygienic environment for people, which would have a long-term effect on people’s lifestyle and health, particularly in the rural areas, for the scheme is essentially aimed for “Clean” villages—all to be covered by 2019.

Modi visited Rajghat to seek Gandhi’s blessings and then participated in a walkathon and after that he visited a Dalit colony. He led the launch of the “Swachh Bharat Mission”, by leading a few others for sweeping at India Gate. All government offices remained opened to oversee the launch. All government servants all over the country were administered an oath for pledging to keep India clean.

Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari released the logo and slogan for the five-year mission earlier on September 25. The logo shows a pair of spectacles of the kind worn by Mahatma Gandhi with the words “clean” and “India”, and the slogan says “one step towards cleanliness”.

It is an ambitious and gigantic scheme. There are 638, 596 villages of which 593, 731 are inhabited and 44,865 are uninhabited. The figures are for—bidding. Laying down pipelines itself would not be that easy. But Nitin Gadkari said the scheme would be launched in all the 638, 596 villages.

“I have written letters to zila panchayat and gram panchayat members as well as block level officers,” he said, adding that the government was trying to involve everybody.

He said the government has increased the grant to build toilets from Rs.10,000 to Rs.12,000 for each toilet, in which 75 per cent of the funds would be contributed by the Centre. “A total of 11 lakh toilets need to be constructed,” Gadkari said.

15-10-2014He said the government was trying to link the mission to the Indira Awas Yojna and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The ministers said, the mission would have duration of five years. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials have been “working overtime on a “360 degree” multi-media publicity blitz to create awareness about cleanliness and motivate people.

Through its various wings, it is planning several audio visual clips, jingles, contests, ads for print media, Internet, digital cinema, radio, TV and community radio to generate the content for publicity. The ministry has urged private TV and radio channels, digital media, film sector and others to participate in its awareness drive and I&B secretary Bimal Julka has held the first meet in this regard with stakeholders. “It is going to be a massive, but focused campaign. Attempts are being made to rope in celebrities and popular figures so that, they can spread the message of a ‘Swachh Bharat’.

The best lyricists and ad makers are being approached for the creation of content. “The emphasis in the publicity campaign is on ‘kartavya bhaav’ or a sense of duty towards cleanliness. The government also wants the private sector to take interest in creating awareness for this movement.”

Popular actors in TV soap operas would also be roped in to urge people to join in the implementation of Swachh Bharat scheme.

The number of sceptics must be huge, but the mission is the first pragmatic step by the Modi government to really and visibly connect with the people. It will help Modi personally, who has been virulently criticized for not implementing the promises he made during his campaigns in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections.

Before leaving for a five-day official visit to the US, he had urged people to turn ‘Swachh Bharat’ into a mass movement and link it to economic activity to ensure greater participation. Chairing a high-level meeting, he said all government departments will actively participate in the programme. Government offices up to panchayat level will be involved in the cleanliness drive that shall be carried out from September 25 till Diwali which falls on October 23.

Modi wants ‘Swachh Bharat’ to be linked with economic activity. He said the pursuit of cleanliness can be an economic activity, contributing to GDP growth, reduction in healthcare costs, and a source of employment.

Linking cleanliness to tourism and global interest in India, he said that a world-class levels of hygiene and cleanliness are required in India’s top 50 tourist destinations, to bring about a paradigm shift in the country’s global perception. If the people of India clean their homes around Diwali every year, why can this attitude not be extended to overall cleanliness and Swachh Bharat, Modi asked, calling for a change in governance attitude towards hygiene and sanitation.

15-10-2014He also attracted the attention of environmentalists over the world while touching upon the Clean Ganga operation, that all such schemes would cleanse climate and environment. His appeal at Madison Square could possibly bring in huge funds from abroad, both from NRIs and promoters of schemes for pollution-free environment. He reiterated his vision of solid waste management and waste water management through a PPP model in 500 towns and cities across India. In his Independence Day speech, Modi had asked everyone to be a part of the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign and to make it a public movement rather than just a government mission. In a press note in the context of the declaration of the plan to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2019, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation said, “The present goal under NBA is to achieve 100% access to sanitation for all rural households by 2022. Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA), the goal is now pre-poned to make Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2019 by construction of individual, cluster & community toilets; and villages will be kept clean, including through solid and liquid waste management through gram panchayats.

“Water pipelines have to be laid to all villages enabling tap connection into households on demand by 2019. In this matter, co-operation and convergence of all Ministries, Central & State schemes, CSR & bilateral/multilateral assistance may become necessary as well as new & innovative ways of funding such interventions.”

If Modi can succeed, a really modern India would begin to evolve.

The villager would learn hygiene and about benefits of clean living. And coupled with the scheme for urbanisation of villages, India’s primitive countryside would be transformed. They would be symbols of a developed country. To digress a bit, the only worry is that the Congress could like in the case of the success of the Mission to Mars, start sniping, claiming that this Swachh Bharat was conceived by Nehru or some member of the dynasty and Modi has cheated them by not crediting the idea to them. But he has based the scheme on Gandhi’s dream. Yes, and it is also been linked to Indira Avas Yoana. This should satisfy the Family.

By Vijay Dutt

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