New Delhi: Invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha against the colonial rule, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday mooted ‘Swachhagraha’ movement for a clean India which he said is not something that can be achieved by budget allocations alone.
He also took a jibe at those who claim that the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign launched by him has failed by showing pictures of garbage on roads and other places, saying at least there is awareness now on the issue of cleanliness.
“After the cleanliness drive, I am often questioned on garbage lying on roads. But I don’t mind that as the awareness related to clean surroundings is a welcome sign,” he said addressing a conference on Indian sanitation here on completion of two years of the Clean India campaign.
Equating cleanliness with “godliness”, he emphasised the need to convert waste at religious places into compost. Modi lamented that while people dislike the sight of garbage, they still have not made cleanliness a habit.
Taking up the issue of cleanliness is not an easy task for politicians, Modi said.
“Every two years there are polls in some part of the country. For politicians and political parties who just work for the next election, it takes a lot of courage to take up a cause like cleanliness as any photo of a garbage dump can spell trouble for them,” he said.
He said garbage can be used as a means to generate wealth and employment by recycling. “Then, cleanliness will become a byproduct,” he said.
He said the “contrast” of people disliking the sight of garbage but at the same time not making cleanliness as a habit needs to be narrowed down.
The Prime Minister said once Indian society learns to convert garbage into wealth, cleanliness will become a “byproduct”.
“It is a contrast that while people dislike the sight of garbage, they are yet to inculcate the habit of cleanliness…it has to be developed,” he said.
He said children are increasingly conscious about issues regarding cleanliness. This shows that the Swachhta Abhiyan is touching people’s lives. He added that a healthy competition is now developing among cities and towns for promoting cleanliness.
Appreciating the media for its positive role, the Prime Minister said that “if there is someone who has furthered the cause of cleanliness more than me, it is the media”. He said while media is usually sceptical about new schemes launched by the government, in this case they did a commendable job in spreading the message.
The Prime Minister emphasised that cleanliness is not something to be achieved by budget allocations. It is rather, something that should become a mass movement.
The Prime Minister said an angawadi worker, who could have exchanged her old sarees for utensils, used it to make handkerchiefs out of it for students to clean hands and nose.
“The habit of cleanliness had been inculcated in them… had these handkerchiefs been given to ministers, I don’t know what heights they would have scaled,” he said in a lighter vein.
The Prime Minister said re-use and recycling have been in the habits of Indians for a long time. He added that these need to be made more technology-driven.
He also urged start ups to develop tools for cleanliness which can be shaped as per the needs of the people.
Modi said while people take a lot of time to maintain and clean their vehicles, they do not treat public and government property as their own.
He said most of the people present at the venue of the conference must have made holes in bus seats using fingers while travelling. He said people should consider government and public property as their own.
He said he has suggested to Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu to start broadcasting “Swachhta news” on Doordarshan as it is necessary to spread the message.
Recalling an old incident, Modi said he had helped rebuild a village two decades ago after floods in Gujarat.
Howver, when he visited there five years later, he found that the villagers were using the toilets as shelter for goats. Modi stressed that cleanliness habit should be inculcated from early age to end the menace of open defecation.