Street Smart

Southasia - - CONTENTS -

Clear­ing up In­dia is not as

easy as it may seem.

With a broom and the will to clean up the streets and neigh­bor­hoods across In­dia, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi launched the coun­try’s big­gest ever clean­li­ness drive in Oc­to­ber last year – a cam­paign that he claimed was free from pol­i­tics and in­spired by pa­tri­o­tism. Known as the ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean In­dia) mission, the cam­paign was ex­pected to cost over Rs. 62, 000 crores and has cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of the av­er­age In­dian cit­i­zen since the Prime Min­is­ter has promised to make In­dia trash-free by 2019. In fact, at the launch of this am­bi­tious pro­gram, the prime min­is­ter him­self wielded a broom and cleaned the roads.

Crit­ics, how­ever, say that Modi ap­pears to be tak­ing credit for a drive that was ac­tu­ally ini­ti­ated by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments. This so-called ‘war’ on dirty streets was launched way be­fore the Modi gov­ern­ment came into power, they say. De­bunk­ing crit­i­cism that his gov­ern­ment has been tak­ing credit for ev­ery achieve­ment, the Prime Min­is­ter has cat­e­gor­i­cally ac­knowl­edged the ef­forts of all pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments to make In­dia clean.

Much like the ALS Ice Bucket Chal­lenge that went vi­ral, Modi nom­i­nated nine prom­i­nent public per­son­al­i­ties — in­clud­ing Bol­ly­wood stars — who had to nom­i­nate nine more to con­trib­ute to the cam­paign, thus mak­ing it a pyra­mid scheme of sorts. The In­dian me­dia had a field day since the TRP (tar­get rat­ing point)-hun­gry TV chan­nels gave max­i­mum cov­er­age to ac­tors, crick­eters, celebri­ties, and cor­po­rate lead­ers clean­ing roads and

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