The following article has been written for MyIndMakers. Pasting it here for reference.
One of the biggest reasons for the success of Prime Minister Modi’s campaign last year was the participation in it by a varied section of people. Another big reason was that Modi was able to reach out to a large section of people, given his relentless campaign for months. Upon assuming office, Modi has just extended these traits – and has devised a few programs that reach out to the unreached.
There are extremely few examples in history, where people from a varied section of the society rise to the call of their leader and contribute to the development of the society. Seldom (or perhaps never?) have we come across a war-cry like Swachh Bharat. We are terribly notorious for most unhygienic surroundings. In fact, some take pride in spitting on the road, throwing waste on the streets and littering the surroundings. It took one call to the higher conscience by the Prime Minister from the ramparts of the Red Fort to show us the mirror.
What is the effect it has had? Let’s first take a look at the collation below:
The only time we have heard little kids participate in government programs, are during Independence Day, Republic Day etc. At times, we also see them line up on the road to welcome a visiting dignitary. This is perhaps the first time children have actually come forward to be part of the nation building and are reminding people of their responsibilities. It is a matter of immense pride that almost all schools across the country have taken up Swachh Bharat in the right earnest, and are preparing the future citizens of the country to behave more responsibly.
Let's move away from children and take a look at this video of Sachin Tendulkar (yes, THE Sachin Tendulkar) actually cleaning up a footpath in Mumbai (if this doesn't inspire you, what else will?). Or this video of Priyanka Chopra who has transformed a slum into something livable. Or read this report on Anil Ambani cleaning the Badrinath and Kedarnath temples. The Telangana government, led by the TRS party (which the BJP opposes strongly) has whole-heartedly taken up Swacch Telangana program.
No mention of Swachh Bharat is complete without talking about Temsutula Imsong. For those on social media, this name started becoming familiar about 4 months back. Prime Minister Modi made a unique and special mention of Temsutula's work on twitter. And then, during his visit to Canada, he made a mention of "two daughters" who worked towards cleaning up of Prabhu Ghat in Varanasi - the recognition was complete. In her own words, with this recognition has come added responsibility too! That an ordinary citizen feels more responsible, instead of resting on the ultimate laurel, makes her even extraordinary.
“Touching a raw nerve” is a phrase that is often used. In my view, the call of the duty by the Prime Minister has touched the “responsibility nerve” of people. What else can explain a Sachin Tendulkar, a Priyanka Chopra, a Anil Ambani, a Temsutula Imsong, a bunch of kids in an apartment complex, a batch of retirees, a group of doctors – working towards a common goal? Most of these folks have little to do with governance; are busy with their lives, and yet have now committed themselves to doing their bit, even if it only means picking up a toffee cover and throwing it in a dustbin. This is why precisely Swachh Bharat program has reached the unreached.
When it comes to Swachh Bharat, I must mention the wide gap in the coverage by the "national" media versus the regional media. Since I am from Hyderabad, I can primarily refer to the Telugu media. The largest circulated Telugu daily, Eenadu , had two front page editorials expressing fullest support to this program and exhorting people to join. Their newspapers and TV network (ETV) very regularly carry reports of various sections of society, from cities to towns to villages, taking part in cleanliness drives.
They are also one of the best critiques of this program too.v They have regular reports and pictures of how abysmal garbage disposal is; how no authorities are taking action of unclean surroundings in government hospitals etc. Mr. Venkaih Naidu has even nominated the proprietor of another newspaper, AndhraJyothy, as one of the brand ambassadors of Swachh Bharat. Various other newspapers also regularly cover these activities in their editions. A snapshot from another newspaper Sakshi, during the recent Swachh Hyderabad drive is below.