By Anjana George
Edited by Shambhavi Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
Last time someone promised to seriously clean up, the Aam Aadmi Party (common man’s party) wore Nehru caps and came on the streets, armed with jhadoos in their hands and a commitment to bring a ‘change’. And the story goes hence, that the good-looking and promising broom-brigade got the chance to romance the Delhi governance seat, but it ended in a bitter dharna-style divorce. Sources have been reporting that the protagonists of the story are on their toes trying hard to amend the broken relationship between the broom and the aam aadmi. But in the meantime there seems to be someone else in the scene who has befriended the beloved jhadoo. In his ‘modi’fied version of the Nehru jacket, he definitely looks dapper and debonair as he wields the broom in the direction of his political clan.
With all due respect to Mr. Kejriwal and whoever is left in his team, it may be right to admit that Mr. Modi has transformed the clichéd clean-up idea into a stylish trend, so much so that he carried the idea on his shoulders, all the way to the United States, that even Obama had to nod his head in approval. Dressed in trademark Modi-wear, he even took centre stage at the Madison Square Garden and proudly proclaimed his commitment and affection towards ‘Clean India’, as the Americans sat up and took notice.
Officially starting on the Mahatma’s 145th birthday, 2019 has been set as the deadline by the Government of India to achieve a cleaned-India status. Anchoring the ‘Swachh Bharath Abhiyan’ initiative are Modi’s foremen who were asked to take up one constituency, street or public area and proceed to tidy the place with help from all public servants and the aam aadmi alike. The entire program involves cleaning up public streets, garbage dumped areas and most importantly facilitate health and sanitation. Divided into separate urban and rural initiatives, the cause aims to build around 2.6 lakh toilets to complement Modi’s ‘pehle shouchalaiye, phir devalaiye’ chant.
The country is now witnessing a social overhaul, with techies and students thronging city streets to fix footpaths, plant saplings and remove wall posters with an air of enthusiasm. Not far behind in this trend are our political babus, whose pictures are strewn across all Indian print media, holding brooms in their hands and sweeping streets with an obedient bunch of supporters behind them. I&B minister Dr. Ravi Shankar Prasad looks the conventional poster boy with his broom in hand, advertising the importance of this mission. Modi even declared that October 2nd will not be a holiday for government officials as they are supposed to be active on the streets demonstrating the Swachh Abhiyan. It is heard that the only reason officials refused to protest against this order was because they would be provided free lunch after the day’s activities.
In between all this, it now remains to be seen how the Modi-wave will actualize into a nation-wide campaign. Swachh Bharath Abhiyan is only a reincarnation of the Nirmal Bharath Abhiyan that was initiated by the Vajpayee government in 1999. The program was a failure because of lack of proper administration and public participation. The tides have changed and the Prime Minister looks charged with a mission, but will he continue to inspire the laid-back Indian into taking up the initiative seriously is a question that will only be answered with time. For once the government has taken a stand, but like all the other times, will ‘we’ the citizens give up again, start complaining and blaming others for all the problems at hand? We have always wanted to see a change, but never tried to be the change. This year as we mark the Mahatma’s birthday with a new meaning, I think we can hand Mr. M. K. Gandhi that much credit for creating the ‘be the change’ phenomenon.
Recently, cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted that “If the Martians planned on an Earth Orbiter Mission (EOM) they would understand that Indians lived in a pile of garbage.” Looks like our Martian counterparts just have to stall their earth mission till 2019 and wait to see if the Indians are actually capable of taking up a mission (other than MOM) seriously.
Anjana George is a second year student pursuing Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) at Christ University, Bangalore. She believes in the power of words and their magic to entwine people in thought and understanding. Her subjects of interest include politics, spirituality, architecture and movies among others. She is an avid reader and takes keen interest in writing, storytelling and photography. She aspires to be able to know people, places and lives and share her knowledge of experience with others. She can be contacted at the following email address- firstname.lastname@example.org