Dengue Deaths, Open Defecation, Rising Pollution: ‘Happy’ Birthday Swachh Bharat

Posted on October 3, 2015 in Environment

By Jahnvi Desai:

India recently celebrated the first birthday of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan introduced by Prime Minister Modi on October 2, 2014. The movement has involved a lot of ostentatious advertising, involving several celebrities, and for the first time the nation witnessed the Prime Minister sweeping the streets of Delhi himself. Huge amounts of investments were done in the name of cleanliness, posters, banners, buying of cleaning equipment by municipal corporations; and NGOs were supported with funds too. All for cleaning up the mess scattered and created by a total of 1.25 billion Indian citizens. However, keeping recent statistics in mind, can we really wish ‘Happy Birthday’ to our ‘Clean India’?

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Dengue deaths are at an all-time high in Delhi, open gutters are still a common sight, public dustbins are still overflowing and most depressingly, India still contributes to 60% of the world’s open defecation. I comprehend the fact that India deals with an outsized population and change of such large magnitude cannot happen overnight. This occasion can be an excellent reminder for our citizens to inculcate the virtue of hygiene and sanitation. I personally believe this initiative introduced by Modi is a brilliant one and if practiced and preached by all, the ‘clean India’ goal is achievable. We as a class of citizens must endeavour to support our government in achieving this objective. Several efforts are being taken at the Government’s end to give impetus to this movement. A team comprising of men from the armed forces undertook a swim of 2800 km along the river Ganga to highlight the importance of cleanliness and students from all over the country have undertaken various cleanliness drives.

Despite such initiatives, India still remains one of the most polluted countries in the world. What is the reason behind this? Is it the mentality of people or is it the fact that people are simply habituated to unsanitary practices? When will people understand the importance of such movements? Hopefully, this movement can be put to greater use than simply celebrating its birthday every year.