Making A Mockery Of Swachh Bharat


The induction of Swachh Bharat Mission on social media was asking for the storming of Facebook and Twitter with people posing with brooms in hand with #SwachhBharatMission. But Delhi BJP chief, Satish Upadhyay, former AAP member, Shazia Ilmi, and India Islamic Cultural Centre President, Sirajuddin Qureshi among others, have pushed it to appallingly low levels. Making the NDMC officials litter the place with dry leaves and then posing with brooms while cleaning them is not the idea behind Swachh Bharat Mission. In fact, the pretentious cleaning act in the name of Swachh Bharat by these individuals is the perfect example of how not to engage in the campaign.

There is enough literature on the need of Swachh Bharat Mission in the country. The essence of the whole cleanliness drive and grand-stand inaugural is to engage the citizens in contributing to making India clean. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message this Gandhi Jayanti was, “Na mai gandgi karunga, na mai gandgi karne dunga” (Neither I will litter, nor will I allow littering). This act belittles the philosophy behind the PM’s message. It is ironic that the party state chief orchestrated the spread of litter in arguably the most posh area of the national capital, when the city is swamped with dirty areas. According to Mr. Upadhyay, “they made a mistake by littering and dumping garbage before we reached there. We were not aware about it but we still see it as a positive gesture since they were only trying to give a message”. Couldn’t the Delhi BJP chief arrange the miniature cleanliness drive in a place which actually needed cleaning?

Like Mr. Upadhyay, M Wajood Sajid, Media Advisor to President India Islamic Cultural Centre, refuted any role of the IICC. According to Mr. Sajid, the president of IICC, Sirajuddin Qureshi organised it in his individual capacity. No matter whoever is responsible for this disgraceful act, it is condemnable that all the participants could not see beyond a photo opportunity.

In Times Now’s News Hour Debate on November 6, Arnab Goswami claimed that first garbage was swept off the pavement and then it was littered with dry leaves. What followed, to the participants’ shame, has been recorded in pictures for all to witness. This is not the Swachh Bharat the country envisioned when it took the pledge on October 2.

Swachh Bharat aims to give Mahatma Gandhi a clean India by 2019. Belittling this campaign into a photo-op is disrespectful to Gandhiji. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is fabled for his cleanliness priorities. He used to clean latrines of ashrams himself. And he didn’t do it for posting on Facebook, tweeting, or sharing it on Instagram. These politicians aren’t even one percent the man Bapu was, but atleast they must refrain from undermining the essence of the campaign.

Such acts rob people’s trust in initiatives and it spreads a very wrong message to the masses. Politicians, civil society members, and even individuals, need to set examples and lead the way. There are umpteenth cleanliness issues in the country which need addressing. It is time that these photo craving individuals rise above tokenism and work in actuality for the initiative.

Swachh Bharat needs to grow bigger than a photo-op campaign.

Vikas Arora

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