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It has been five years since the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was first launched on 2nd October 2014. Let us look at the progress this expedition has made so far.

According to the “Broken Windows Theory”, each problem that goes unattended in a given environment, affects people’s attitudes towards that environment and leads to additional complex problems. Our country has proven to be the perfect example of this theory, considering the condition of cleanliness in India, as Indians carry this psychological element in their blood. A website called Top Tens rated India as the second dirtiest country on the planet. According to reports, 29 out of the world’s 100 most polluted cities are Indian cities. It was concluded that the best time for change passed 20 years ago. The question that prevailed was, can India transform into a clean country?

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched to answer this question with the help of the following steps:

1. To eradicate the system of open defecation in India.

2. To convert the insanitary toilets into pour flush toilets.

3. To remove the system of manual scavenging.

4. To make people aware of healthy sanitation practices.

5. To link people with the programmes of sanitation and public health to generate public awareness.

The objectives that this mission planned to achieve are certain basic facilities that a significant number of people are deprived of. How unfortunate it is that to achieve these fundamental benefits, there arises a need for a campaign at such a large scale in the 21st century! Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is one of the largest cleanliness drives in the world, and it has brought in transformation and traceable health benefits for many. It has helped reduce diarrhoea and malaria among children below five years, stillbirth, and lower birth weight (new-born with weight less than 2.5 kilograms). The priority under this mission has not just been the construction of toilets, but also the induction of a behavioural change in the communities. . The result has been a considerable growth in health parameters, as revealed by various researches. The gains from the cleaner India are important inputs, directly as well as indirectly, for achieving broader economic development objectives. While Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has exhibited great results, and has made remarkable progress, it has also received a fair amount of criticism.

Apart from the primary objectives of the campaign, it also aimed at instigating behavioural change within the people. Reports have shown that the campaign has not exhibited impressive results in that sphere. India has spent about INR 530 crores on the publicity of the campaign itself. Further, even after the Indian Government spending three times more money in making free toilets in comparison to the amount spent by an average Bangladeshi or Nigerian Government, people are reluctant to use them. Though there are many issues a democratic government needs to be criticised for, the reason why India is not becoming clean fast enough has to do with the citizens as with Government’s executive shortcomings. Unless the elephant in the room is not addressed, we are never going to succeed in making India clean. The citizens are reluctant about the steps taken by the Government as it pushes them out of their comfort zone. They still wish to stick to their old lifestyle and not contribute to this revolutionary cause, making the Government’s efforts futile.

Feature Image Credits: The Hindu

Avni Dhawan

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