Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: Time to ‘be the change’

Picture Courtesy : greymeter.com

By Anjali Gursahaney

On October 2, last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a nationwide cleanliness campaign called the “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.” He used Gandhiji’s spectacles as its symbol and laid down a vision to have a Clean India. Nine influential personalities in India including Sachin Tendulkar and Baba Ramdev were nominated by him to start the cleaning effort.

Except Priyanka Chopra and Kamal Hasan, each of them took brooms in hands with their teams and further nominated nine people to join the campaign.

Swachh Bharat or mere symbolism

Picture Courtesy: ndtv.com
Picture Courtesy: ndtv.com


Started with a gusto and nationwide goodwill, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has emerged as nothing more than a mere symbolism. Should government be blamed for this or should we blame ourselves? Modi had clearly stated that it was people’s campaign to clean their place and not government’s. Government can provide infrastructure but it should be our habit to throw garbage in bins. Throwing litter everywhere and blaming government of symbolism won’t help.

Tirupati was awarded as the cleanest holy city, recently. Even Banaras, a city where the Prime Minister paid personal attention since it is his Lok Sabha constituency, has started to change for better. The Ghaats are now cleaner. When asked from a local resident about the change, he said: “jaise hi Modi ne jadu uthya wase hi CM aur District Magistrate bhee neend se uth gaye.” (The moment Modi picked the broom, the CM and District Magistrate too woke up from slumber.)

Delhi: Capital of India

Picture Courtesy: Anjali Gursahaney
Picture Courtesy: Anjali Gursahaney

Let me tell you what I have noticed in the past year.
The silver colored dustbins with Swachh Bharat symbol lie empty. Walk through any busy market in Delhi and you will notice that people do not care to use dustbins. People spit on the walls or even outside the dustbins. Some people who try putting the rubbish in dustbin, miss the shot.

Picture Courtesy: Anjali Gursahaney
Picture Courtesy: Anjali Gursahaney

Interestingly, when safai karamchaaris come to collect the waste, they don’t find anything in it and leave as it is not their job to pick the waste outside dustbins. We cant blame them for not picking the waste outside the dustbin, rather people need to understand the purpose of a dustbin.

Typically, people choose to throw trash anywhere but in dustbins. They choose to urinate in public places, they spit on the road. To curb this menace, some people have tried pasting posters of gods and goddesses on walls. Even this does not prove effective.

A colleague of mine told me that she resides in a very posh locality of Delhi where people spend lakhs of rupees just in bhajan kirtan. Their apartments are so tidy. However, when you use lifts and stairs, or anything that is meant for general use, you see garbage, and spit marks due to gutka and paan.

Talking to NewsGram, a Delhi resident Anirudh Soorma said: “Every time you tell people to throw waste in dustbins they make fun of you and they even say ‘Modi ko phone karo’ (call Modi) and other such flowery phrases. I don’t understand what pride they get by littering in their own country!”
Kumar, a local street vendor, remarked that some people just don’t care, “Log aate hain aur jhahan dil kare wahan kachra fek dete hain! Kaafi bar bolna padta hai ki yahan dabba rakha hua hai, yaha fekiye. Yeh bolne ke baad bhee kuch log kasht nahi krte uthakr fekne ka.” (People come and throw garbage wherever they like. Many times I tell them that there is the dustbin, throw the garbage in it. Still people don’t take the pains to pick and throw inside the bins.)
The other day, I saw a college girl throwing a bottle of Coke randomly in the market. When I asked her to pick that up, she said, “One bottle won’t clean Delhi”. Bystanders who heard the conversation said: “Yeh toh roz ka maamla hai . Agar hum log ek dusre ko ese check karke bolte rehe toh shayad is desh ka kucch ho jaaye.” (This is an everyday affair. If we keep checking each other, maybe, we could do some good to the nation.)

NewsGram spoke to yet another Delhi resident, Parul Keswani, who said: “It is not merely garbage. People leave their alcohol bottles in public place. The other day I went to Hauz Khas Lake. There were so many broken glass bottles due of which my sister got her leg hurt.”

Way Forward
“In our country, personal hygiene has been a focus, but social hygiene is an issue. People are very cautious about personal hygiene. But we have not been giving much importance to social hygiene, we now have to give importance to social hygiene,” PM Modi said at Safaigiri Awards 2015 function.

Picture Courtesy: narendramodi.in
Picture Courtesy: narendramodi.in

Modi further added: “From the days of independence, Indians have thought that the government has to do everything but this needs to change now.”

Swachh Bharat  programme will never be successful if it is taken as the government or Modi’s programme. This has to be our programme,” he added.

If we want clean environment then it has to start from ourselves. The government needs to put sanitation structure in place and we as the society must play our part in maintaining the basic sanitation.

“Be the change you want to see.”- Mahatma Gandhi