As conversations go, it wasn't a lengthy one, but fleeting encounters with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the kind of functions we meet in, rarely permit lengthy discussion. At the end of his lunch for the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Mr Modi asked me, "Swachh Bharat kaisa chal raha hai? (how is the Clean India mission progressing?)" I replied that though it had raised awareness, action on the ground was lacking and he would need to provide much more Central funding. "Karoonga," he responded. "Karoonga (will do)."
I hope he does. Because what I said in those brief words goes to the heart of the problems with Mr Modi's much-vaunted Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
A clean India would benefit all of us, and I had been pleased last year, at some political cost to myself, to support the Prime Minister's initiative when he asked me to be one of its original nine Ambassadors. At the same time, as I also said in accepting his invitation, I am not a fan of tokenism, and I was worried the campaign would descend to symbolic photo opportunities for grandees who would pick up a broom for the cameras on Gandhi Jayanti, and never touch a broom again till the cameras came back the next October 2nd. Clean India is a great campaign idea, the kind of agenda-setting our Prime Minister excels at, but the real challenge, as I said then, will be to sustain it beyond a week of photo ops.
I frankly do not believe this has happened yet. The photo-ops and speeches have continued, and the original nine Swachh Bharat Ambassadors have become over a hundred, with state-level celebrities being added to the national figures chosen by the PM. But India is no cleaner than it was when Mr Modi first announced his scheme.
This is not surprising. As an Opposition MP I have had numerous occasions to point out the gap between the Prime Minister's rhetoric on a number of issues and the reality on the ground. This is a government where ideas are rarely matched by implementation. A central part of the problem, glaringly apparent in the case of Swachh Bharat, is the lack of adequate funding, commensurate with the announced objectives. As with so much else this Government has announced, there is no realistic budget, no credible plan of action, no implementation capacity. Just slogans, photo-ops, breaking news.
When Mr Modi announced his Abhiyan (mission) he talked about setting up a "Swachh Bharat Kosh," which would benefit from vast amounts of resources to scale up solutions to the problem. There is no sign of such a treasure-chest. Instead, the publicity budget for the programme has gone up by a factor of five, while the actual sanitation budget of the government is lower than that of the UPA's Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.
It is not just that the government needs money to actually build the toilets, install the dustbins, and improve the drainage facilities it is supposed to establish. It also needs money to ensure that there is water in the toilets it builds, so the toilets are worth using. Studies suggest that most of the toilets built since Mr Modi announced his scheme are unused or unusable because they have no water to flush or clean them.
That's not all. If you clean up a street, or a park, or a beach (as I did), you need to create viable alternative places for dumping the garbage and waste that people have got used to dumping on the street, park or beach. If you don't create those alternatives, people will dump their garbage once again in the place you've just cleaned up. Those alternative places should incorporate comprehensive waste management systems, from collection to processing, perhaps conversion to biogas or other products. A clean-up, in other words, can't be an end in itself, but a mere first step in a comprehensive effort to improve public sanitation. This simply hasn't happened under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
After fulfilling my cleaning drive last October, I wrote to the Prime Minister about why his government needed to do more to fulfil the objectives of Swachh Bharat. I took the example of the Parvathy Puthenaar Canal in Thiruvananthapuram, a once-beautifully-flowing water body where boats plied, people swam and even drank the water from, till the 1930s or 40s. Now, however, the canal is choked with garbage, sewage and weeds; the idea of stepping into it, let along swimming in it, is unthinkable. I pointed out that the canal could be cleaned, at considerable cost. But if it was not to become a sewage dump again, steps would have to be taken to construct effective sewage systems for the people living on both sides of the canal, so their effluents didn't flow into it; waste disposal systems would have to be created so they didn't have to throw their garbage into the water. Otherwise the crores spent cleaning it would prove a total waste.
But this would require a mammoth effort, which an MP or even a local government would never be able to afford. It would need central funding, the kind of thing that perhaps a Swachh Bharat Kosh - or even a larger NDA sanitation budget - could have financed. It was a classic example of the kind of substance that needed to lie beyond the slogans of Swachh Bharat.
Mr Modi's response? The PM still hasn't even acknowledged my letter, let alone replied to it. The detailed project proposal prepared by the District Collector is presumably gathering dust somewhere in the Prime Minister's Office. Meanwhile, the canal remains choked up and filthy. And the Swachh Bharat photo-ops go on.
I don't mean to imply that money is everything. There's also citizen involvement. When I cleaned up a section of Vizhinjam beach in my constituency, I involved the local community as volunteers, because as the local residents, they were the obvious stakeholders in the exercise, with most at stake in the cleanliness of their immediate environment. Since it was a largely Muslim community, I involved the mosque and the leadership of the local Jama'ath (as well my local Congress party workers). With their blessings, it became something everyone in the area could participate in and could share the benefits of - the opposite of a few leaders sweeping a street and disappearing.
The UPA government appointed and paid "swachhata preraks" under the Nirmal Bharat programme. The NDA has apparently abolished the provision, perhaps as a cost-cutting measure, or maybe on the laudable premise that every citizen of India, not just an appointed few, should make cleanliness his or her personal responsibility. It hasn't happened, though.
There's a lot to be said in praise of the PM putting cleanliness at the top of the national agenda. As I wrote last year. no individual Indian can match the reach of a Prime Ministerial initiative. When a PM picks up a broom, it is news; the country pays attention. By launching his Swachh Bharat campaign on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, the Prime Minister has grabbed the nation's attention. But he simply hasn't done enough with it - and the attention is, inevitably, fading.
My fear is that Swachh Bharat will again be reduced to one of those empty rituals, a label without content, a slogan devoid of substance. If that happens, it will be far worse than if Mr Modi had never devised Swachh Bharat in the first place. Nothing corrodes a nation's spirit more than empty cynicism - but raising hopes without taking the basic steps to fulfilling them produces the most cynicism of all. Swachh Bharat should not be reduced to one more Modi public-relations gimmick, more visible in the headlines than in the streets.
Mr Prime Minister: India deserves better.
(Dr Shashi Tharoor is a two-time MP from Thiruvananthapuram, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, the former Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Human Resource Development and the former UN Under-Secretary-General. He has written 15 books, including, most recently, India Shastra: Reflections On the Nation in Our Time.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
New Delhi, June 30: Sultan Ahmed Al Mehmodi, a revered actor, writer, singer of Oman met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednseday. In appreciation of Modi, Al Mehmodi penned a poem highlighting the efforts taken by the Indian PM to reform not only his nation, but the entire world. A copy of the poem was personally gifted by Al Mehmodi to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Al Mehmodi, the 27-year-old artist of Muscat has been a fan of the policies and initiatives of Modi on domestic and global level. Not only does he admires the campaign launched by the Indian Prime Minister towards cleanliness, he also praised his resolve towards delinking terror from religion. (ALSO READ: Swachh Bharat: Muslim leaders meet Narendra Modi; pledge to build toilets near Ganga)
“Modi ji, you are sparing part of your valuable time to teach children on hygiene,
Really, you have touched the hearts of elders before touching those of children,
And really we are learning from you,
I wish to meet you.”
One of the stanzas of the poem have been stated above. In the following paragraphs, Al Mehmodi does not fail to pray Allah for More success to a “leader like Modi”.
The poem was recited by him before the Prime Minister. Modi patiently listened to the poem and appreciated the adoration showed by the young artist.
Based on the poem, filmmaker Videsh Mani has decided to cinematography a four-minute video, which could be used by the government for promotion of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Published Date: June 30, 2016 3:16 PM IST
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New Delhi, Nov 15: After NCP chief Sharad Pawar joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by taking broom in his hands, the PM appreciated the veteran leader for joining his ambitious initiative.
"Appreciable effort by Sharad Pawar ji. His support to Swachh Bharat Mission will help create a Clean India," tweeted PM Modi later in the evening.
On Friday, the NCP chief, who has been a staunch critic of PM Modi and his ideology, extended his support to the BJP beyond Maharashtra legislature, by taking a broom in his hands.
Pawar, accompanied by his family members who included his daughter and MP Supriya Sule, former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar as well as party general secretary DP Tripathi, swept a road in his hometown Baramati in full glare of cameras which seemed to drive home the message of 'Swachh Bharat' of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government.
However, in an effort to stamp NCP's distinct identity in the drive, Pawar had, in a press conference held here a few days back, announced that his party activists would undertake the cleanliness drive in view of the rampant dengue cases in Maharashtra.
"We have started the cleanliness campaign today and photos are taken. But we have to ensure that streets are not littered with garbage tomorrow," he said after launching the campaign in Baramati.
This gesture by the two leaders is signalling towards a new found bonhomie between the NCP and the BJP.
In the near past, during Maharashtra Assembly poll campaigning, the Prime Minister attacked the NCP chief and his nephew Ajit Pawar for promoting dynastic politics. The PM even asked the people of Baramati to break free from slavery of Pawars, during his campaigning.
Swachh Bharat Mission. The campaign is India’s biggest ever cleanliness achievement Done by the people, who got 3 million government employees and schools and colleges students of India participated in this event. Actually Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean Indian Mission) is a national level campaign by the Government of India covering 4041 statutory towns to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country. these Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Clean Indian Mission was started by Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, nominating nine famous personalities for this campaign, and they take up the challenge and nominate nine more people.
So why are you waiting for, so keep Register here in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean Indian Mission).How to register in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean Indian Mission):
Visit official link. http://swachhbharat.mygov.in/
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Swachh Bharat Take a Pledge :
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi exhorted people to fulfill Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of Clean India. The ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ is a massive mass movement that seeks to create a Clean India. Cleanliness was very close to Mahatma Gandhi’s heart. A clean India is the best tribute we can pay to Bapu when we celebrate his 150th birth anniversary in 2019. Mahatma Gandhi devoted his life so that India attains ‘Swarajya’. Now the time has come to devote ourselves towards ‘Swachchhata’ (cleanliness) of our motherland.
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for acknowledging his contribution to ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ (Clean India Mission).
Modi on Sunday shared an audio file on Twitter, where he is heard reciting a poem by Amitabh. “A special message from Amitabh Bachchan on Swachh Bharat,” Modi tweeted.
The 74-year-old actor re-tweeted to thank Modi.”My most gracious and respectful thanks to the honourable Prime Minister Mananiya Shri Narendra Modi-ji, for acknowledging my small contribution,” Big B tweeted
my most gracious and respectful thanks to the Hon Prime Minister Mananiya Shri Narendra Modi ji, for acknowledging my small contribution. https://t.co/WH8zgS48B3
Bachchan also featured in government’s video against the practice of open defecation, launched as part of Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, which showed him asking people to join the movement.
In the video, the actor said that villagers in India must know by now that by following the practice of open defecation, they are putting their loved ones in dangers of health risks.
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