Maintaining that cleanliness and hygiene should not be politicised and there remained a “thousand” other issues to “abuse” him, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined Monday that even 1,000 Mahatma Gandhis, 1 lakh Modis, and all CMs and governments put together cannot realise the dream of a clean India without the participation of 125 crore Indians.
Swachh Bharat mission
Addressing a gathering to observe the third year of the Swachh Bharat mission on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said he could criticised for saying this he would say it nonetheless: “Agar ek hazaar Mahatma Gandhi aa jaaye, ek lakh Narendra Modi aa jaaye, sabhi mukhya mantri mil jaaye, sabhi sarkare mil jaaye, toh bhi swachhta ka sapna poora nahi ho sakta. Lekin agar sava sau crore deshvasi aa jaaye, toh dekhte hi dekhte sapna poora ho jayega (We cannot realise this dream of cleanliness even if 1,000 Mahatma Gandhis, one lakh Narendra Modis, chief ministers and all governments come together. We can realise it only when all 125 crore countrymen come together).”
He referred to the “alochana” (criticism) he has drawn over this initiative. “When I first initiated the programme and stepped out with a broom to launch it, everyone, from the media to politicians, criticised me. They accused me of spoiling the holidays of school children by forcing them to participate in this drive. I quietly tolerate a lot of things. Slowly, my capacity for this tolerance is increasing,” he said.
“For three years, without hesitation, I continued. I continued as I was sure that the path shown by the Mahatma and what he had said cannot be wrong,” he said. He cited the instance of how when he stressed on the need for children to wash their hands before eating, many hit out, saying how will they procure soap or water. Talking about the change that has brought about , he pointed out how five years ago, when children found to cleaning their schools, there would be an outcry.
“abuse me” Modi
The media now covers such news, he said, with a positive outlook. Soon, people who participate in cleanliness drives will not make news but those who stay away from it, he said. “Modi ko gaali dene ke liye hazaar vishay hai (There are a thousand issues to abuse Modi). Every day, I give you a reason to abuse me, make use of it,” he said, adding that the issue of cleanliness should not made fun of or politicised because it involves bringing about societal change.
He cited a UNICEF survey of 10,000 families which showed that households that didn’t have toilets or lacked good hygiene had to spend Rs 50,000 on health-related expenditure. He said the issue should also seen from the point of view of the difficulties faced by women who can attend to the call of nature only prior to daybreak or post-dusk though men relieve themselves just about anywhere, including traffic junctions.