Changing mindset with Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Changing mindset with Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Changing mindset with Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Rahul Bhandari, IAS

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a brainchild of our Prime Minister Modi, has been critically claimed as one of the most significant strategic moves by the government after the country was declared independent in 1947. Equipping 100 million rural households with a toilet was surely an ambitious target but the toughest challenge was to change the mindset of the people.

In the villages, having a toilet inside the house was considered as a taboo. Attacking on this idea and finally dismissing it as mere superstition was a real breakthrough for this 'jan andolan'. At the time of its launch, less than 40% of the villages in rural India had a toilet at home while today, even on the lower estimates, it is believed that the numbers have reached to about 90%.The behavior change is clearly evident from these statistics but more light should be thrown on how a majority of our citizens, specially women, have to no longer suffer the indignity of defecating in the open.

India is going through a demographic dividend and through mass mobilization 'Swachh' minds created an Open Defecation Free India and was a big tribute to Bapu on his 150th birth anniversary. Swachhta is a baby step towards a 'Swasth Bharat'. In a recent survey by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it was found that Open Defecation Free villages were less prone to incidences of diarrhea, whereas measures of undernutrition (stunting and wasting) had significantly improved. A UNICEF survey claimed that rural households in Open Defecation Free villages could save about 50,000 rupees per year on medical expenses.

Women Benefitted

The major beneficiaries have been women and adolescent girls who can now pay more attention to their health and education and overall development. This phenomenon has now started creating a pool of talent for the economic development of the nation. Many states have started collaboration and competition on achieving their targets as early as possible, thus enhancing the cooperative and competitive federalism among each other.

Public Support

Many schemes have been announced by earlier governments but none had seen the public participation at such unanimous levels bringing in people from all sections of the society. From Bollywood Stars to Sports Personalities, from NGOs to School Students, the message of 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness' had been spread and everyone is eagerly and most importantly self motivated about participation in this noble cause. It has highlighted the importance of cleanliness, also confirming respect for the 'Swachhagrahis'.

Technological interventions and assimilation of music and videos to create awareness have further helped the movement in gaining popular participation. The viral song of 'Gaadi wala aaya ghar se kachra nikaal' shows how common people can relate to the 'Swachh Bharat Mission' making it more than just a cleanliness drive.

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