Free Press Journal

No significant progress in Swachh Bharat campaign: Tharoor


Indian politician and writer Shashi Tharoor speaks at an event on the third day of the Jaipur Literature Festival in the Indian city of Jaipur on January 23, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Rohit Jain Paras

Jaipur: Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor today said he was disappointed at not seeing “significant progress” in the Swachh Bharat campaign, initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“There is no significant progress. We have not seen concrete progress, fund allocation, improvement of fundamental structure and schemes. The Prime Minister deserves credit for having raised the issue but the government is not confined to headlines,” Tharoor said.

The Congress leader, who was nominated by Modi to spread the message of the cleanliness campaign, said there was failure to allocate funds and put in place a mechanism for the initiative. “The government has to ensure that mechanism is in place, funds are allocated, leadership is given to the programme and that sadly has not happened,” Tharoor said at a session titled ‘Swachh Bharat: The India Story’ on the penultimate day of the five day Jaipur Literature Festival here.

Tharoor said the cleanliness campaign has been reduced to mere photo ops with VIPs wielding brooms in front of cameras on every Gandhi Jayanti on October 2. “PM Modi had announced a Swachh Bharat Kosh. Where is that kosh? I have not seen it so far. We need to ensure that the funds provided by the central government also strengthens the local level leaders who want to make a difference.” The Congress leader also stressed on “cleanliness of the mind.”

“In our country, you cannot talk about Swachh Bharat while condoning hatred, prejudice and things like ‘Go to Pakistan’ etc.” he said. Tharoor took a dig at Modi for his “‘na khaunga na khane doonga’ remarks. “We have entrusted the responsibility to curb corruption on someone who has said ‘Na Khaunga Na Khane Dunga…woh beef ke bare me bol rahe the’ (he was talking about beef),” Tharoor said in response to Punjabi novelist Desraj Kali with whom he was in conversation.

He said there is a need to change the mindset of people and the government should create infrastructure facilites for garbage dumping especially near canals to ensure that people do not throw garbage into them. He also favoured hiking salaries and providing facilities for the dignity of people engaged in scavenging and cleaning.

Desraj, expressed his pessimism towards the cleanliness drive, saying mere launch of a campaign is not enough. “Without changing the mindset of people, the objective cannot be achieved,” he said.