Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: The Clean India Mission

Sameer Khan is a One Young Ambassador from Oman with Indian heritage. He is passionate about youth empowerment and sustainable development in the Middle East, North Africa and India. He has founded various youth empowerment initiative groups dealing with child labor, youth unemployment, healthcare, environmental and sustainability.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan "The Clean India Mission", is a national campaign by the Government of India, covering 4041 towns. It aims to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country. This campaign is India's biggest ever cleanliness drive and 3 million government employees, school and college  students participated.           

The Prime Minister of India, Narenda Modi, said: "I appeal to everyone, particularly political and religious leadership, mayors, sarpanches and captains of industry to plan and wholeheartedly engage in the task of cleaning your homes, work places, villages, cities and surroundings. I request your active support and participation in our collective quest to make a Swachh Bharat... "

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Mr. Modi had kicked off the program by sweeping filthy streets in New Delhi the capital of India with his own hands. Across the country, over 3 million government employees were required to spend their day, on a public holiday, sweeping and scrubbing. The holiday which marks the birthday of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, who famously called on Indians to take responsibility for cleanliness. "After so many years of independence, do we still want to live in filthiness? Can't we resolve this much?" Modi asked, after sweeping a street. The government has pledged that everyone in India will have access to a toilet by 2019 and called on individuals to contribute by volunteering 100 hours a year to cleaning.

But is this mega dream of the Honorable Prime Minister going to be a reality in the near future, or is going to be a usual bureaucratic propaganda which we always see before and after elections in India?

So let's consider the current obstacles that the honorable Prime Minister is targeting. The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) underlined the woeful state of sanitation in India in a recent survey, especially in rural areas where 2/3 of the population lives. According to the survey, less than 32% of rural Indians have their own toilets and only 9% more have some form of access through community arrangements. Of the estimated 1.1 billion people globally who defecate in the open, 600 million resides in India alone.

Indians generate more than 55 million tons of solid waste every year and that could increase to 240 million tons by 2047 as per The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) estimates. As of 2003, it was estimated that only 27% of India’s wastewater was being treated, with the remainder flowing into rivers, canals, groundwater or the sea.  The outcome of which is a polluted and toxic rivers. NewsWeek describes Delhi’s sacred Yamuna River as “a putrid ribbon of black sludge” where the concentration of fecal bacteria is found to be 10,000 times more than the recommended safe limit. The holy River Ganges is no different, if not worse.

Will this ever growing sanitation hazard be ever stopped or reduced? Can this vision of Swach Bharat be achieved with the current mindset of the people? Do we need another policy to awaken the cleanliness within?

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From the mission and vision towards action

The Department of Education in Rajastan directed universities across the state of Rajasthan to work towards rural sanitation and drinking water initiatives by identifying the local community issues. With this mission in mind, Samer Khan, theYoung MENA Co-ordinating Ambassador who has been previously invited by various organizations for his expertise on environmental sustainability which has included working with the United Nations, currently works at the Department of Applied Research at Mewar University, and has been nominated by the Hon’ble Chairperson of Mewar University to be part of the University Swach Bharat Mission Team (SBM Team) where they have adopted 5 (five) villages neighboring their university.

This adoption scheme is not only going to be one step towards attaining a cleaner India but also is an opportunity for young researchers of the University to work on innovative solutions to be part of this national movement. This team comprising Head of Departments and Directors of the University shall be visiting the above mentioned villages and targeting the effluents of over 4000 textile manufacturing units  in the region and prepare a roadmap for their solutions so that further necessary action can be initiated at the earliest. For this the SBM Team has already started working with various departments on projects for enhancing groundwater quality, utilization of food and human waste for Bio-Gas, new innovative techniques of conversion of industrial effluents into agriculture oriented water. These are just few of the major projects which are in pipeline apart from that the University Administration & Staff have stood up and also cleaned the whole university by themselves proving that keeping your country clean is our right and responsibility.

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