The secret ingredient

The Right to a healthy life and a clean environment is a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution. Every year, millions of people lose their lives due to lack of clean water supply and inadequate sanitation. Their presence is essential for the welfare of families across the world. Cleanliness is also one of the Sustainable Development goals of countries across the world.

India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014 with an objective of achieving a clean India. A dream of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. His dream is now on the path of becoming a reality. The government is hard at work to achieve this dream. It has undertaken many initiatives for this purpose. Some of them are, ‘Open Defecation Free villages’, ‘Construction of toilets’, ‘Regularizing Waste Management’ etc. But is it enough? Can the dream of a clean India be achieved just by the government alone?

The might of the Roman Empire did not come from its military power alone; the people of Rome played a major role in establishing it as a superpower of its time. They actively took part in things which led to ‘Empire building’ like joining the army, participating in constructive politics and much more. Rome fostered one of the early feelings of patriotism. Similarly, for Swachh Bharat to become a success, the people of India will have to actively participate in it to achieve the objective of ‘clean India.’ The government has provided the means, but the people will have to take these means to reach the end.

Before the role of Mahatma Gandhi became prominent in the Indian Independence Movement, the masses were largely ignorant of the movement. It was only after Mahatma Gandhi that the sense of belonging and want of independence were realized among the people. This too took almost 35 years to develop. Changing the mindset of the people is one of the most difficult tasks in a mass movement. This is essential, if Swachh Bharat has to be made a reality. The people’s mindset has to change from ‘not caring’ to feeling a pinch when someone dirties (or even damages!) public property. It will take time, but the process has begun.

The people are what a nation constitutes of. If we want a clean India we will have to clean ourselves first. ‘Cleanliness begins at home.’ Then it extends to ones surroundings and eventually the entire nation. As a democratic nation it is our right to question the government on its failures. But it is our duty to ensure that we work for our nation as well. The secret ingredient to a successful movement? The people.

Happy Independence Day!

-Priyamvad Rai

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