30 May 2017
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas




  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia


  • » 10/02/2014, 00.00

    INDIA

    Modi, sweeper for a day for Gandhi and the "Clean India" campaign

    Nirmala Carvalho

    The aim is to improve the sanitary conditions of the Indian people, providing toilets and services to schools and homes. For pro-Dalit activist Raghuvanshi, the campaign is a boost to the fight against the caste system. However, he opposes plans to turn the Ganges River into a fluvial highway for goods.

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - This morning in New Delhi cleaners from Valmiki Basti Colony found themselves with an exceptional co-worker, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India.

    Wielding a broom, the prime minister cleaned one side of the road, inaugurating his much-heralded Clean India campaign (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan).

    In a symbolic move, Modi chose the birthday of the Mahatma Gandhi - India's independence leader - to present an ambitious project whose goal is to improve the sanitary conditions of the Indian people.

    Modi's action might seem just a big publicity stunt. However, speaking to AsiaNews, Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR), an organisation committed to the defence and promotion of Dalit right, calls today's demonstration a positive step.

    "The Clean India campaign," he explains, "is a step towards reconciliation with Gandhi and against the mind-set that still keeps the caste system alive. In this sense, I welcome the prime minister's step."

    In the caste system, Dalits -"untouchable" outcaste - take care of most menial and degrading tasks, namely those involving contact with anything that is dirty and "impure".

    This ranges from the tanning of hides and skins and animal slaughter to the removal of garbage and animal carcasses.

    Even today - in spite of the official abolition of the caste system - streets, latrines and sewers are cleaned by Dalits.

    Modi's five-year national campaign kicks off today and on 2 October 2019, the government will take stock of its achievements.

    This is a tall order. The first - and most difficult - thing to do will be to get people to stop defecating in the open.

    In fact, more than 600 million Indians have no access to privies. To change the situation, Mr Modi has promised to build toilets in every school and provide every home with a one over the next five years. This is expected to cost 620 billion rupees (US$ 10 billion).

    The government has earmarked 146 million rupees of its own money for the project, and expects the remaining amount to come from the corporate sector, international development organisations and elsewhere.

    However, to build health services will not (and cannot be) the only solution to "clean" India.

    In all of the country's cities - including some areas in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata - it is not only easy to see people performing bodily functions outdoor, but they also dump trash everywhere. Indian rivers are virtual open dumps.

    For this reason, the campaign calls on people to take an active part in the project, learning to keep the streets clean and acquire a new "consciousness" about health and hygiene.

    As part of the cleanliness "battle", Raghuvanshi however has some misgivings about another measure by the central government.

    "The authorities presented a plan to transport goods via the Ganges. If this is implemented," he warns, "the government will end up polluting even more the already highly polluted waters of the sacred river".

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version










    See also

    04/12/2009 INDIA
    World Bank loan for rehabilitation of the Ganges
    The sacred river is one of the most polluted in the world. The problem also extends to its tributaries. Approximately 400 million people live along the river banks. Other rehabilitation programs have come to no end. The pollution produces tumours in the population.

    27/07/2015 INDIA
    Karnataka: thousands of pupils join Pope Francis’ ‘Green crusade"
    More than 6,000 boys and girls took part in the ‘Clean and green Ballari’ as a practical response to the Laudato Si’ encyclical. The initiative is a joint effort by local Catholic schools and state officials. For the local bishop, “Teaching ecology must become an integral part of formal education.”

    14/07/2011 INDIA
    A billion dollars to clean up a filthy Ganges
    The river worshipped by Hindus and vital to India is now an open sewer, full of faecal bacteria, unfit for bathing or farming. Now the World Bank will fund a restoration project, but experts express doubts about its success.

    14/01/2013 INDIA
    India, 10 million pilgrims expected for the beginning of the Kumbh Mela
    For 55 days, more than 100 million Hindus will bathe in the holy waters of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Sarawati. The Kumbh Mela falls every 12 years and is one of the most important Hindu festivals. Hygiene alarm: the high rate of pollution of waterways, the authorities have set up field hospitals and toilets.

    22/03/2017 15:41:00 INDIA
    The Ganges is a "living being." Raghuvanshi: historic decision, pulls wool from eyes of Hindu nationalists

    The High Court of Uttarakhand equates the waters of the sacred river for Hindus to a human being. The goal is to reduce the pollution caused by industrialization and urbanization. Indian activist: "The Hindu radicals use pollution to come to power." The courts must also take action for Dalits who live on the river banks.





    Editor's choices

    CHINA-VATICAN
    The 10th anniversary of the Letter from Benedict XVI to the Church in China. The weakness of some bishops

    Fr Peter

    The Letter expresses "the love of the Holy Father for our Church". The "tragedy" for the Church in China: bishops who become "state officials", "do not listen to the Letter" and are afraid of "giving their life to the flock". But there are "bishops and priests [who] safeguard the true faith of the Catholic Church." Profound thanks to the universal Church.


    VATICAN – CHINA
    AsiaNews Symposium: gray pragmatism must be dissipated, says Mgr Savio Hon



    Gray pragmatism is rooted in Deng Xia Ping’s maxim ‘It doesn't matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice’. Today this means it is impossible to distinguish white from black, what is true from what is false. Heroes of the faith are thus challenged by wolves in sheep’s clothing.


    AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!

    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.
     

    SUBSCRIBE NOW

    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google









     

    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®