On October 2, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India Mission. The Prime Minister has made such efforts one of the policy cornerstones of his administration, demonstrating his commitment by not only enacting these measures but by physically working on the revitalization projects himself in New Delhi. While the provisions of the legislation specifically pertain to WASH issues (water, sanitation, and hydration), Modi expects to see a general renewal of India’s low-income centers (both urban and rural) as a result of some of the improvements made in the realm of sanitation. The Clean India Mission expands on many of the initiatives of the early 21st century, looking to eliminate the usage of dry toilets, create sanitary water complexes that can provide safe, drinkable water, and help villages establish proper treatment facilities. However, the policy distinguishes itself from its predecessors by emphasizing awareness and mandating education on the adverse effects of public defecation, attempting to alter the degenerative practice and encourage cleaner, safer habits.
The initiative is seen as a direct counter to much of the international and domestic criticism India’s government has received over its sanitation programs. The TSC and other previous policies were considered too bureaucratic and government-led, infrastructure-focused, and accused of ignoring the cultural underpinnings of the issue. The Clean India Campaign, by contrast, looks to empower local leaders and business owners (women in many cases) to create self-sustaining sewage systems, stresses the amelioration of public health, and emphasizes the importance of education in changing the public perception regarding toilet use. Modi began the campaign with nine “ambassadors”, all of whom were prominent celebrities, ranging from comedians to cricket stars, encouraging others to take up the challenge.
This “cleanliness drive” ultimately involved three million people, making it the largest event of its type in India’s history. Many of the tasks of the Clean India Campaign, including organizing, financing, and media consulting, will be delegated to NGOs and private enterprise, creating a dynamic network of experts committed to the cause. Critics of Modi claim that this is all a political ploy; merely a populist PR stunt intended to cover up the campaign’s ineffectiveness and corruption that plagued many previous initiatives. While the Clean India Campaign is still in its proverbial infancy, many are optimistic about its potential, believing that Modi may, in fact, fulfill his promise to the Indian people.
1."Swachh Bharat Mission." Ministry of Urban Development (India). N.p., Sept. 2014. Web. May 2015.
2."Swachh Bharat Mission." Ministry of Urban Development (India). N.p., Sept. 2014. Web. May 2015.
3.Bhaumik, Sukanya. "India's Sanitation Story." Pragati RSS. N.p., 16 Aug. 2014. Web. 31 May 2015.