Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan: Intent And Spirit Should Win Against Spite



India makes for a beautiful brooding country which seeps in history, culture, diversity as it struggles to shed its post-colonial garb and make those compromises with modern life. This is the very reason that India of today interests the west. The country is a galore of contradictions that coexist with clarity. There is an order in chaos and chaos in order.

So when a country of its size with the population that it has struggles to feed and manage, lessons of hygiene have been lost somewhere. Because just as the rich live in their gated communities, the poor live indignant lives amidst filth and poverty. Lessons, if any, in creating an image for India, would require a mammoth effort to turn real. And the west will still stay engaged all through, training its lens on slums and cultural celebrations of India, as enamoured as always.

But, there are a few occasions in the recent past that Indians have woken up to do something solid about their squalid state of affairs. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi wielded the broom, much to the chagrin of opposition parties, the nation watched and responded in awe.

After all, he was only trying to create a positive image of the tasks that lie ahead of India. Just as much as Indians take pride in Mars Orbiter Mission, they also want their country to be free from garbage. Some responsibility has to start at their doorstep too. And PM Modi, even during his election campaigns had spoken of creating a ‘Bharat’ that was clean and free from garbage for a healthy living.

Former minister of UPA government, Jairam Ramesh and Modi had almost spoken on similar lines of creating a clean India and had articulated well against the callousness of the citizens who didn’t take responsibility to keep their country clean. So, cutting across party lines, two things were clear. One was that the image of clean Bharat is aspirational and bankable to make the country dwell-worthy. And, second one is the cause needn’t be politicised.

When former minister and former UN official Shashi Tharoor spoke in appreciation of Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan by Modi, there were ripples within Congress about his leaning towards the BJP or Modi. Kerala Congress Unit, where Tharoor is the primary member, shot a letter to Congress High Command, seeking ‘suitable action’ against the man who had appreciated their political rival.

Petty, did you call it? Well, it indeed was. What Modi speaks or does as far as Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan is concerned, is the feeling that exists in the pulse of every Indian citizen. When Congress wants to deride him for the sake of doing it, and habituated by the practice of criticising for the heck of it, Congress is actually digging its grave deeper. When an issue of public interest or general importance is simply run down, people react through mandate and that is exactly what has happened to Congress.

The problem with Tharoor is that he is not a public politician who grew from the roots. He is that member of club of politicians who gained entry into Congress HQ through plum international postings through his career, and his image of an intellectual.

He is certainly not among those movement-based politicians who will only find time to criticise. His praise of Modi on more occasions than just this one has ruffled a few feathers inside the Cong house. While the party itself has not said much about Tharoor’s ‘Modi-fied’ comments it is clear that the party also understands a swacch abhiyaan has been on people’s priority list since long. Trampling all over it, will only create more problems for the party.

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