Mission Swachh Bharat: What is the progress?
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]e are all familiar with the proverb ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’. A lot of emphasis has been placed on ‘saucha’ (cleanliness) in Hindu scriptures as well. However, we have seen that India is not ranked highly among nations for its standards of cleanliness. In order to change this image and make cleanliness a second nature PM Modi came up with the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’. The program was launched on the 2nd of October 2014. This piece aims to explore how much impact the mission has had on ground close to a year and half after being launched.
The main aim of this mission, as stated in its website, is to ensure higher standards of sanitation by building toilet blocks and eliminating manual scavenging among others. The mission has been divided into urban and gramin (rural).Better waste management also forms a part of this mission. There are five main objectives of the mission; eliminate open defecation by constructing toilets for households and communities; eradicate manual scavenging; introduce modern and scientific municipal solid waste management practices; enable private sector participation in the sanitation sector and change people’s attitudes to sanitation and create awareness.
Open defecation is a matter of concern in both urban and rural areas. It not only causes diseases but in some areas bordering forests it has been life threatening as well due to risk of attacks by wild animals such as leopards. In addition to this it does not create the right impression on foreign travellers. We often find Indians admiring the high standards of cleanliness in foreign cities and PM Modi aims to replicate it in India with this mission.
Here is some data about the progress of the mission in urban areas. More info here: How are the Urban areas doing?
Another issue is that rural areas see a high number of drop outs, especially among girls, from school due to lack of toilet facilities. Swachh Bharat aims at ensuring that all schools have toilet blocks so that girls do not have to discontinue their studies. So it tackles the dual problem of sanitation as well as literacy. With an allocation of Rs. 9000 crores ($1.35 billion) in the budget, the Government aims to improve sanitation in both urban and rural areas.
How do you measure the success of a cleanliness drive? The simple answer is there is no single yardstick to measure cleanliness and most importantly cleanliness is an on-going process; one that has to be carried out continuously. Although we can’t say that the programme has been 100% successful just yet; one thing is certain- it has created awareness among the citizens about the need for maintaining healthy surroundings.
Being a regular on social media I’ve seen a number of tweets and facebook posts about clean railway stations, roads and even villages. Everyone from the PMO to the common citizenry has been involved in this project in some way or the other.
Here are a few articles/posts you may want to check out (These are just some of the numerous articles you can find on the web):
Educational institutions are also involving their students in voluntary efforts to clean the school/college premises and surrounding areas. Even citizens’ groups are conducting ‘Shramdhaan’ (voluntary work) wherein they clean a chosen area on a given day of the week.
Miles to go
However, this is just the beginning and as Robert Frost would say ‘I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep’. The success of Swachh Bharat depends on the continuous efforts of the people as well. We often see people spitting on the roads, throwing thrash anywhere but the dustbin, urinating in public etc. It is not only the prime minister and his cabinet but every Indian who has to step up and take responsibility. Doing our duty and contributing our bit to this mission is much more important. And if we can follow the rules and cleanliness standards abroad we can very well do it in our own country as well.
What the government has taken up is a Herculean task and surely the government alone cannot succeed in completing it. The corporate sector has also pitched in to contribute its might for a ‘clean India’ but it is the citizenry at large that will make or break this mission.
One of the biggest benefits of this mission would undoubtedly be the tourism industry as has often been stressed by PM Modi himself. The rural areas would also be immensely benefitted due to construction of toilet blocks as would be the urban poor.
Whether the mission achieves the ambitious targets set by the PM to be achieved by 2nd October 2019 (150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi) remains to be seen. However, one thing is certain this mission would definitely help in making Indians more conscious about our duty towards keeping our country clean and presentable.
Swachh Bharat Mission Websites:-
Urban: Urban India Information
Rural: Rural India Information
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 66.53 Rupees.
2. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
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