Prime concern

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Sep 2017 11:13:36

IF THE people do not understand Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s concern for cleanliness, then it will be a national disaster. Time and again, the Prime Minister has talked about making India a clean place in every which the way. Ever since he launched the Swachh Bharat campaign as an integral part of the national agenda, he has talked constantly about various ways to achieving better levels of cleanliness everywhere.

Now, launching a campaign which he named Swachhata Hi Sewa, Mr. Modi urged his ministers to ensure that India became a clean place in the truest sense of the term. Unfortunately, at least so far, the Clean India effort has met with only limited success. And that is the Prime Minister’s concern. He might not have shown it, but those who know him also know that Mr. Narendra Modi is slightly anxious about the implementation of Swachh Bharat concept.

It must be said in retrospect that even though Mr. Modi verbalised his idea of Clean India in quite an elaborate manner, the nation failed to grasp its importance. The expectation that the rest of the country would pick the concept after the initial push from the Prime Minister, did not come true. Despite the much hype, much publicising, much spending of Government money, the people failed to get excited about Swachh Bharat idea. Much to the contrary, many even scoffed at the very thought and tried to mock at it.

This skepticism, this lack of interest in cleanliness, unfortunately, stemmed from a serious cultural lacuna India often suffered from for centuries. And that happened despite a very clear-cut traditional and historical inclination of the Indian society towards environmentally friendly culture. That was the reason why many suspected that the lack of interest in cleanliness on a pan-India level might have come from a conspiratorial absence of proactive public participation in cleanliness drive.

For, even as the Prime Minister and others at the highest levels shouted themselves hoarse on the issue and the Government spent millions of rupees every day to propagate and promote the idea of individual responsibility to keep the country clean, the people in general gave a rather cold shoulder to the whole concept, littering public spaces, spitting on roads, throwing garbage anywhere and everywhere, and even mocking at the idea on social media. This overall indifference is the root cause of the failure of the Swachh Bharat concept. Seen from this point of reality, we can empathise with Mr. Narendra Modi for his rightful concern.

We must assert that this is more of a cultural malady than any purposeful reluctance to cleanliness. Traditionally, as a society, India is not known to have shown a serious agreement with the thought of cleanliness per se as the fundamental condition of human existence. There is no doubt that the Prime Minister tried his best to motivate the people in general to take to cleanliness as a vocation as well as advocation.

Still, the response was only limited, so much so that most Indian cities are yet to implement the simple idea of garbage segregation on wet and dry basis. And the prime reason for this failure should be tracked to the cultural malady that the people in general are not committed to cleanliness as a new religion.
So, if the Prime Minister wants to ensure a resounding success for Swachh Bharat idea, then he will have to launch a massive social reforms campaign whose first results may come after a long time. It is necessary, however, that we must recognise the importance of the Clean India idea as well acknowledge the Prime Minister’s concern as rightful. That is for the start.