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India's Cleanliness Drive - 'Swachh Bharat Mission' - A Success Story

Updated on September 29, 2022
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Umesh is a freelance writer contributing his creative writings on various subjects on various sites and portals on the internet.

Swachh Bharat Mission

Launching the campaign
Launching the campaign | Source

Cleanliness is Godliness

PM, Mr Modi - putting up an example for others
PM, Mr Modi - putting up an example for others | Source

Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education, and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them.

— Benjamin Disraeli


India is a large country and a big part of its population is living in villages wherein many places there is scarcity of water, electricity, cooking gas and other basic amenities including flush toilets etc. Moreover, many people do not understand the importance of cleanliness in their lives and one could see the heaps of garbage at many places. The Govt of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi launched an ambitious cleanliness program in the year 2014 and chalked out a detailed action plan not only to create awareness but to provide the basic amenities like flush toilets etc in each and every corner of the country. The great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi had always talked about cleanliness and had motivated people for it. To honour that feeling, his spectacles were chosen as a logo for this cleanliness campaign and drive in India.

Seeing the large population of India and the living conditions of many small farmers and poor people, this seemed to be a challenging and herculean task but after a rigourous exercise of planning and preparation for this cleanliness drive, it was expected that out of this endeavour will emerge a cleaner and greener country. As said if there is a will, there is a way, the Govt of India undertook this ambitious programme.


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The beginning

The visionary Prime Minister of India Mr Modi is from a humble background and he knows the root problems of the country in details as far as the issue of cleanliness is considered. The absence of minimal sanitation facilities in the villages and slum areas always intrigued him. After taking up the position as PM in the year 2014, he wanted to start a cleanliness campaign on a national level through a large scale participation of the local people.

On 2nd October 2014, which was also the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Mr Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission. By this campaign it was envisaged that India will be aiming for the vision of a cleaner India by 2019. He also mentioned that - "A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150 birth anniversary coming on 2nd October 2019."

The ambitious plan

The name of this ambitious plan was 'Swachh Bharat Mission'. Swachh in hindi language means clean, Bharat is the local name for India. So it was a movement or mission for a cleaner India.

The Swachh Bharat Mission is the most significant cleanliness campaign by the Government of India since independence in 1947. Mr Narendra Modi led a cleanliness pledge at India Gate, New Delhi, which about thirty lakh government employees across the country joined. He also flagged off a walkathon at Rajpath, New Delhi and surprised people by joining in not just for a token few steps, but marching with the participants for a long distance.

Launching the program

During the launch of this mission Mr Modi himself started the drive by cleaning with a broom on the Mandir Marg (Temple Street) in New Delhi and encouraged others for doing same. He also said that people should keep their surroundings clean and should also not allow others to litter here and there.

During the launching of this campaign Mr Modi called 9 persons to join him and asked each of them to request further 9 persons and make an expanding chain in that fashion. As Mr Modi was the motivator himself, the campaign started to take a good shape. The main idea was that people should come out voluntarily for it and once, more people are involved, the campaign will turn in a mass movement.

Mr Modi also visited the holy banks of the river Ganges and there also he requested to the people to come forward for that noble cause and told them the significance of sanitation in our lives. Wherever he went he tried to awaken the masses on this crucial aspect.

With the continuous guidance from the top and support from the public this movement got further boost and more people were inspired to join it.

Implementation of cleanliness drive

Open defecation was a very big problem in India and is a source of threat to the health and hygiene of people in the country. To meet this challenge, during the conceptualisation of this plan it was envisaged to construct about 120 million toilets across the rural and urban households in the country. As per the Govt records about 92 million toilets were constructed for use by February 2019 and more were in the pipeline. This has considerably improved the situation of open defecation in the country though more efforts in this direction are still underway. About 550 thousand villages were covered in this phase of providing toilets. India being a highly populated country having about 1.35 billion people in its lap, requires a mammoth and massive program for any progressive or developmental endeavour. However the 'Swatchh Bharat Mission' has been instrumental in getting India towards becoming a 100% ODF (open defecation free) state.

While executing this drive in many places certain associated tasks like provision of water and electricity were also carried out. The parallel task of solid waste management was also provided at some nodal places. Though much progress has taken place in the field of solid waste handling in the developed world but we are lagging behind much in this respect and only about 30% out of the large daily solid waste of about 150,000 tonnes is only being treated.

Participation of people

It is well understood that no campaign of such massive magnitude can be carried out without the support of the people of the country. Fortunately, this mission got an all round applaud from the public and Mr Modi in fact thanked each and every citizen for contributing in this mammoth task of providing amneties to the people especially in villages, backward areas and urban slums. He also encouraged and requested people to participate through social media also and for this a dedicated ‘#MyCleanIndia’ was also launched as a part of the Swachh Bharat drive to highlight the cleanliness work carried out by the Govt agencies as well as by the citizen groups across the nation.

Inspection and review

The cleanliness drive became very popular and also very successful as schools, colleges, institutions, offices, business houses etc all started to participate in this process and contributing their bit to this ambitious plan.

Govt of India introduced a scheme of inspection and review of all these efforts at various places to give feedback on the activities done and this trend of inspection and review brought a new life in the campaign. Many organisations realised the power and importance of cleanliness and orderliness in the work places and we have witnessed a paradigm shift in the attitude of the people in the country towards keeping the premises clean and tidy.

This shows as how an honest and sincere person on the top can inspire and motivate the people of the country for undertaking such herculean cleanliness drive plans.

Update - year 2022

Though this campaign was very successful and brought a paradigm shift in the way of the people's thinking process about their surroundings and environment, yet a lot of work is still there to be done to sustain this tempo of keeping the places clean and tidy. For a populated country like India it is a big challenge.

The constant support from the Govt brings a confidence in the people that we will be achieving a cleaner and better India soon with the combined efforts of Govt and public. The efforts started in the year 2014 have brought good results and we have progressed much in this thrust area. In many places additional waste treatment plans have been added. The number of workers in this segment are increased by recruiting or hiring more people. In many places segregation of waste that is dry or wet is being done at the housing society level and it is being adopted in other places also.


Swachh Bharat Mission is a very successful campaign of its own kind and is an example that even in a highly adverse conditions a good thing can be implemented if the top administration has a will to do it. This success has motivated the citizens for putting more efforts in this direction.



1. PM Narendra Modi's speech at the launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan

2. PM Modi flags off ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission walkathon from Rajpath, New Delhi


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Umesh Chandra Bhatt


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