“Swachh Bharat is a humongous success” – said no one ever.
However, today I’m here to remind you that Swachh Bharat, despite its shortcomings, is not a failure. Of course, it has not been a colossal triumph either. But it has surely affected millions of lives in a positive way.
Now before beginning with justifying my claims, I’d like to clarify that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is not limited to this:
It is everything but inviting cameras to make a point.
What makes me ardently revere Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is the government’s tough will and valor to provide the country with better sanitation network and cleanliness habits. It’s an accepted, and quite an obvious fact, that Indians are untidy. They might have cleanliness disorder inside their homes but when it comes to cleaning the society, or rather, not physically polluting the environment, we fail miserably.
The Narendra Modi government has been able to tackle this very mindset in order to achieve, or at least try to achieve, their Clean India mission.
Over 3 crore toilets have been built across the country since 2nd of October 2014, the day when Narendra Modi took to the streets with a broom taller than him. According to reports, India’s sanitation coverage in 2012 was merely 38 per cent which has currently increased to 60.53 per cent under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
— Swachh Bharat (@swachhbharat) April 15, 2017
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If we delve deeper, it is clearly visible that the government is not just claiming irrational numbers. The Central government in The Government of India Guidelines for Swachh Bharat has provided that Rs. 4,000 will be given per household for constructing toilets. 50% of the money will be given in the first installment, before the construction and 50% after completion.
Sure, Rs. 4,000 is not enough monetary compensation, or incentive, whatever you call it, but it does act as a motivation for rural households to initiate work for construction of toilets. Also, making payment for a service that will only benefit the user shows that the government is not merely blurting rhetorics but acting on their promises.
The mission is not limited to household toilets. There are provisions for Community Toilet as well. Here, a group of households is identified as beneficiaries, who do not have access to toilets and can’t afford to construct individual ones. Not to forget that the government was visionary enough to create a distinction between Swachh Bharat Urban and Swachh Bharat Gramin, as the rural realities are far different from the urban scene.
The Narendra Modi government’s target deadline for making India an open-defecation free country is 2nd October 2019, that is the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Will the government be able to achieve the targets?
The answer would be a self-evident NO. The Swachh Bharat mission is moving towards a successful path but not to forget that Indians are also good at disappointing themselves. The Clean India mission will be a success only when we Indians would consider our country as home and not hoe.
Drawbacks of Swachh Bharat include dry latrines issue, extortion by government officials, the degrading condition of public toilets, toilets costing more than what is sanctioned and it deepening the caste structure in villages.
Surely, there’s scope for improvement. Surely, the government can do better.
But the goods of it overpower the bads any day.
Another thing that makes Swachh Bharat not a failure is the intention of the government. No government gains votes by aiming to make India tidy. You, I and every politically aware person know that this is not a political propaganda which can help a party secure voter base. The good faith involved here cannot be neglected. To instill a cleanliness temper is not an easy task, and it is sure as hell, not an easy task to change Indian habits.
The healthy and progressive thought behind the very initiative is commendable. The journey towards Swachh Bharat started three years ago and is still going on, with hitting new milestones every year.
Even if there’s no actual achievement, what it has achieved to do is create awareness among the people of this untidy nation.
Here’s to a Cleaner India.