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Mr. Narendra Modi, our new Prime Minister, has raised issues such as “Swacch Bharat” his drive for “A Clean India”in a manner never done before by any of his predecessors. He has given utmost importance to cleanliness in our country which sadly has for many decades now a poor reputation for being full of filth and dirt.  

The tropical climate, the teeming millions, our levels of poverty and general apathy towards cleaning the mess we leave behind have been factors that have contributed to the current situation. Unplanned urban growth, poor sanitation facilities and lack of a comprehensive action plan to tackle the problem have added to our woes.

Prime Minister Modi hopes to link his campaign to economic activity for improvements in the quality of life for all our citizens. His ambitious dream is to bring about radical improvements before the 150 th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 2019. The message is quite appropriate as Gandhiji himself worked tirelessly to make cleanliness a mass movement as he personally set great store on cleanliness. His views on sanitation,  cleanliness and personal hygiene are here.

You will remember that even on the Independence Day address to the nation from the historic ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, Prime Minister Modi mentioned the goal of working towards a “Clean India” as an important priority.

Garbage clearance has become a huge challenge in urban cities. In Bangalore, for example, nearly 4000 tonnes of waste is generated every day. You must see this documentary made by Jake Cornwall Scoones for perspective on the different dimensions of this huge problem we face.

The tasks ahead call for action on a war footing and the need to put the nation first. The sad part is that while we take so much pride in keeping our houses clean, we don’t share the same zeal when it comes to cleanliness outside our homes. Our age-old mind sets will have to change, and change fast if this gargantuan problem is to be licked.

In the mean time, Prime Minister Modi’s emphasis on a Clean India will hopefully be a starting point in this long  and tough journey of transforming our country.

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