As Mahatma Gandhi quoted, ‘Sanitation is more important than Independence,’ ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ or ‘Clean India Mission’ is a campaign that aims at cleaning up roads, infrastructures, streets, rural areas, smaller towns and cities of the country. The primary motive of ‘Clean India Mission’ is to uproot the open defecation by constructing community-owned and household-owned toilets. It also aims at building a mechanism that can monitor toilet use.
This mission run by the Government of India aims at achieving Open-Defecation Free India by constructing 90 million toilets in rural areas of the country by the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi (2nd October 2019). India will also reach Sustainable Development Goal Number 6 (SDG 6) by achieving this mission.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially launched this campaign on 2nd October 2014. This mission has become India’s largest drive till with more than 3 million college students, government employees, and school students from every nook and corner of the country participating in the campaign in cities, rural areas and towns. In reference to Gandhi’s ‘Champaran Satyagraha,’ this campaign has been called as ‘Satyagraha se Swachaagrah’ by the Prime Minister.
The drive has been categorized in two sub-missions, Swatch Bharat Abhiyan (Urban) that operates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs; and Swatch Bharat Abhiyan (Rural) that falls and operates under Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
The volunteers of the campaign are called ‘Swachhagrahis’ or ‘ambassadors of cleanliness,’ who have promoted Community Approaches to Sanitation (CAS) at village levels and indoor plumbing. A number of non-governmental organizations such as ‘SWach Pune,’ ‘The Ugly Indian,’ and ‘Waste Warriors,’ are working religiously towards the Clean India Mission.
It is not the first time that such a campaign with the motto of clean India has been launched in the country. However, the previous campaigns have not been as successful as this. The Government of India launched the ‘Total Sanitation Campaign,’ in 1999, which was then renamed by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as ‘Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.’ However, this time ‘Swatch Bharat Abhiyan,’ has become a national priority. The Prime Minister himself took the broom to clean the roads in order to inspire every citizen of the country to take accountability of the cleanliness of their surroundings which will result in a clean nation.
Objectives of Swach Bharat Abhiyan/Clean India Mission
- The very first aim of the mission is to construct individual and community toilets.
- The other objective is to reduce or eliminate open defecation from the country. Open defecation results in the deaths of thousands of children every year due to unhygienic living conditions and diseases.
- It also aims at creating an accountable mechanism of monitoring the use of toilets besides constructing them.
- The objective of the mission is to educate people and create awareness of the repercussions of open defecation.
- The mission aims at recruiting ground staff that can train and bring about the behavioural change in the mindset of the rural population to use toilets.
- This mission also aims at liquid and solid waste management.
- The objective is also to lay water pipelines in all the villages across the nation.
This mission is directly linked with the economic health of the nation. Going by the government, the accomplishment of this mission will not only contribute to the GDP growth of the country, but will also reduce health costs. Cleanliness without doubt is also connected to global interests of the country as well as tourism. In order to change the country’s global perception it is mandatory for the country to display highest standard of cleanliness and hygiene, especially for the tourist destinations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to each citizen of the country to take a pledge as a part of the ‘Swach Bharat Abhiyan,’ which is as follows,
“I will remain committed towards cleanliness and devote time for this. I will devote 100 hours per year, which is two hours per week, to voluntarily work for cleanliness. I will neither litter not let others litter. I will initiate the quest for cleanliness with myself, my family, my locality, my village and my work place”.
Prime Minister Modi nominated 9 celebrities from varied fields on 2nd October 2014, in order to promote the clean India campaign keeping pace with the new age marketing through social media. The nominated personalities included Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Ambani, team of TV series Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma, Mridula Sinha, Priyanka Chopra, Salman Khan, Kamal Hassan, Shashi Tharoor and Baba Ramdev.
As a part of the cleanliness campaign, Vice President of India M.V Naidu and Anushka Sharma picked up the broom in order to help in cleaning the cyclone-hit port city of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
Nine more people were nominated as the Brand Ambassador by the Prime Minister to take forward the ‘Clean India Mission,’ on 25th December 2014, that included, Aroon Purie, Kapil Sharma, Padmanabha Acharya, Ramoji Rao of Eenadu group, Sourav Ganguly, Sonal Mansingh and Kiran Bedi. The other torch bearers included, India Today, ‘dabbewalle’ of Mumbai, Eenadu group and Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
Other Planned Initiatives
PWD was entrusted by the government with the responsibility of disposing off waste from government offices. The Ministry of Railways made their plans of providing with the facility of clean bed-rolls from automatic laundries, cleaning on demand, dustbins in all non-AC coaches and bio-toilets.
The Centre has also decided to use the Digital India project in concurrence with the Clean India Mission to have trash cans with solar power that sends alerts to the crew responsible for sanitation once they are full. ‘Swatch Bharat Swach Vidhyalaya’ campaign was also launched for a cleanliness drive in schools, involving teachers and students.
On 2nd October 2014, a Swatch Bharat Run was organized at the Rashtrapati Bhawan which was attended by 1,500 runners.
The Performance of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
In order to monitor the performance and achievement of the Clean India Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Mobile app is being used by the government organizations.
A Swachh Sarvekshan, an annual cleanliness survey commissioned by Ministry of Urban Development, is carried out by Quality Council of India. It is an extensive survey pertaining to sanitation that is carried out across many cities in order to study the impact and progress of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The aim is also to foster a sense of competition among different cities of the country. Following are the five parameters on the basis of which the performance of each city is evaluated –
- Open defecation
- Education, information, behaviour change and communication
- Municipal solid waste management, sweeping, collection and transportation.
- Provision of community and public toilet seats.
- Disposal of solid waste and processing.
- Capacity building and e-learning.
The Clean India Mission has to be a combined effort of government and the citizens of the country in order to change the attitude of people towards sanitation and hygiene. The government and the people should work in tandem, as rightly put by Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Be the change that you wish to see.’