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    January 2017

Time to stop the ‘buck’


Way back in 2012 when British MP Lucy Ivimy’s reportedly stated that Indians are “congenital litterbugs”, there was a nationwide uproar in our country. However, no matter how much painful the remark was, the bitter fact was that there was not an iota of doubt about what Ivimy had stated. And three years down the line, in spite of all the protests and furore of overzealous “patriots”, the British parliamentarian’s statement still holds good.
In fact, there is no point in getting infuriated or defensive about people bursting out against Indians for being filthy and dirty in their ways of life. The general lack of cleanliness and hygiene is prevalent at every place across India – be it hospitals, railway stations, hotels and offices. We have not even spared places of worship by littering the surroundings of temples, mosques and churches. A Swachh Bharat survey done in 2015 by the Ministry of Urban Development in all the 476 cities in 31 States and Union Territories reveals that nothing has changed and the Indian cities are as filthy as they ever were.
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal involvement set the tempo of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan with his ministerial colleagues, bureaucrats and civil society alike took up 
well-publicised cleanliness campaigns across the country. But that was it. On the ground, the hype, hoopla and the photo-ops have failed to make an impact.
Fortified with well-defined guidelines, the Swachh Bharat Mission which was launched on October 2, 2014 has flourished well into a national initiative. But unfortunately, in spite of all the efforts from various quarters, nothing has changed. Our surroundings are into virtual dump yards. 
And the most ironic aspect of the entire episode is that the “steel frame” on which Modi is depending on to make the ambitious Clean India Mission a success is “corroded” to such an extent that it itself is not readying to become part of a new, clean and swanky India, let alone strictly monitoring and implementing the noble initiative.
Our Cover Story is an attempt to show the mirror to the bureaucracy and the Government. At a time when India is going the smart cities way and striving hard to bring itself on a par with developed nations like the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan and Singapore, can we, especially the policy makers, afford to stick to the habit of ‘filthiness’? 
Is it justified to blame the politicians for every failure? Are not the bureaucrats and the common man equally responsible for making successful a programme launched for the nation’s benefit? 
It is now time to make the bureaucracy accountable as much for its poor implementation of Government policies as for corruption. Heads in the corridors of power must roll otherwise Swachh Bharat will just not be possible. 


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