‘1000 gandhis’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Oct 2017 10:53:31

PRIME Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has made a very critical point, not out of disgust but out of hope, that unless 125 crore Indians worked together, India could not be a clean place! Even one thousand Mahatma Gandhis cannot achieve this task if they are not helped by the people, he added. Nothing could be more sensible than this statement, since it highlights the importance of popular participation in Swacchha Bharat programme. Mr. Modi is fully optimistic that every Indian can be an agent of change. This optimism is far more valuable today than anything else. 

Despite this poetic expression, there is also a hard reality of Indian scenario that the Prime Minister cannot overlook. This reality pertains to the unwillingness of average Indian people to conduct themselves proactively to ensure that their respective surroundings are kept clean with continuous vigilance and effort. For reasons not so well spelt out ever, Indians, as a community, have proved to be dirty people, in the sense they seem to have no collective commitment to cleanliness. And this absence of commitment to cleanliness is visible everywhere in the country, not sparing temples and hospitals as well.

The ruthless and shameless manner in which the average Indian people throw garbage into rivers and lakes, the way they hurl filth in public places, the manner in which they spit around shows how dirty they are as a community. It is this collective conduct that makes it impossible for anyone to believe that once upon a time India had a well-administered tradition of cleanliness at all places and enjoyed the reputation all over the world.

In today’s India, however, such a reference to the past will only invite widespread derision. And the Prime Minister is rightly concerned about this.

The Swacchha Bharat movement was launched with so much fanfare and the Prime Minister himself led from the front. He also enlisted support of countless celebrities as brand ambassadors of the campaign which caught the attention of the whole world. Yet, two years down the line, what is visible is an utter failure of the programme, thanks to the unwillingness of the people to take plunge into the campaign. Another point of failure is the ugly attempts of some people to weave political webs around a truly good concept and thwart the Government’s efforts.

Against such a background, the Prime Minister’s appeal -- to 125 crore Indians -- makes a great sense. He knows, the success of Swacchha Bharat programme depends solely on people’s willing participation and not on one or two persons. It was Mahatma Gandhi who had pushed the idea of cleanliness. The Swacchha Bharat campaign of the Prime Minister was inspired by the Gandhian ideal. Yet, he realises that even 1000 Gandhijis would not be able to ensure success of the campaign, unless they are supported fully by 125 crore common people of India.

Though Mr. Modi has sounded optimistic, it is more than clear that a sense of despair, too, seems to be hiding in his heart because of the overall failure of the campaign. It is necessary, therefore, for the common people to ensure that they understand the basic idea of a clean India and then take part in its implementation in the most serious and collective manner. It must be made clear that Swacchha Bharat is not a political campaign and that it is a national need. There is no need to repeat the various benefits of such a campaign. What is needed most is the willingness of the common people to play their own role in the effort.

When Mr. Modi made a reference to ‘1000 Gandhis’, all he meant to achieve was highlighting the importance of public participation. We must notice the transparent honesty in the Prime Minister’s word. We must respond to his call positively.