Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged people to turn Swachh Bharat into a public movement, saying this was the only way to ensure its success. He also targeted critics of his government’s cleanliness campaign, asking them to stop mocking it and, instead, extend a helping hand.
“If this remains a party or even a government programme, it will not be successful. If it’s seen as Modi’s programme, then it’s doomed. The cleanliness drive will be successful the day people consider it their personal agenda,” the PM said at an awards function for those who have contributed to the campaign.
Hitting back at critics who have dubbed the campaign — which turned one on Friday — a “photo-op”, Modi said, “If you want to join, come but at least do not make fun of our efforts.”
He said he was pushing this drive to fulfill at least one dream of Mahatma Gandhi.
Calling cleanliness a matter of habit, the PM said that in India, people are conscious of personal hygiene but indifferent to social hygiene. He also pointed out that 1,000 children die of hygiene-related diseases every day in India.
In a veiled criticism at previous Congress governments, the PM said that after Independence, people were given the impression that everything would be done by the government. “If there was a pothole on the street, villagers would hire a jeep to go to district headquarters 100km away. The pothole could have been repaired with the money spent on the petrol.”
Modi also spoke of countries like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea where prime ministers or royal leaders have taken the lead in cleanliness drive.