INDIA - “Clean-up” India one day as a scavenger for the Prime Minister

The goal is to improve the sanitary conditions of the Indian people, providing bathrooms  in all schools and homes. For the activist pro-dalit Raghuvanshi, the campaign is a plus in the fight against caste system.


Narendra Modi, the newly elected prime minister of India, launched a campaign on Thursday – the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Clean India Mission – enjoining his countrymen to pick up brooms, pans and brushes and set about sweeping streets, parks and other public places.


Modi chose the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the revered independence leader, to launch the five-year drive, which also aims to provide hundreds of millions with toilets.

The 64-year-old politician, who has long made cleanliness and hygiene a prominent theme in his speeches, called on compatriots not to “let India remain unclean any longer” earlier this week.

“We are not good at it compared with other countries, but we must try,” said Gandhi, the station manager.


Although 2 October is usually a public holiday, Modi, who won a landslide victory in May, ordered officials in India’s massive bureaucracy to report for duty and pledge to clean their places of work.

Across the country, groups of people could be seen with pans, brooms and brushes. One group swept the pavements of Delhi’s upmarket Golf Links neighbourhood. Another tackled the spit-spattered stairwell of a large ministry.


“In a country like India where there is caste and class discrimination, he has given a sign that everyone should be involved and this is a radical departure,” said Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, a pioneering campaigner on sanitation. “We have never before seen politicians and bureaucrats sweeping the streets.”

“This is something we are doing not just for India but for the planet. The whole world needs to come together. Everybody needs to do it,” Gandhi said.


The new campaign also aims to build sufficient toilets to end the problem of “open defecation”.

Unicef estimates that almost 594 million – or nearly 50% of India’s population – relieve themselves in fields, woods or rivers, mostly in poor rural areas. For this reason, the campaign invites all of the population to become an active part of the project, learning to keep the streets clean and to acquire a new "consciousness" for sanitary purposes.