By Trishala Sanyal, AKK New Law Academy.

2nd October 2014, the day gave us the real meaning to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. Our honourable Prime Minister Shri  Narendra Modi initiated the mission of “Swachh Bharat” with the two fold intention. Firstly, to create awareness amongst the public about GDP of the nation being affected because of the filthy conditions of the roads and public places. The health issues form a serious bone of content affecting the GDP rate of our country. If cleanliness is maintained then the expenditure of the government on the heath sector shall automatically reduce which would help in maintaining a high GDP level.   His second intention for the initiation of the mission would be best reflected by his saying, “A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi while celebrating his 150 birth anniversary in 2019.”[1] Indeed a Clean India would be the best tribute to the Father of the Nation, given the magnitude of “Dirt” being encountered by the Nation.

GDP determines the potential capacity of a nation to grow. India being a country with rich cultural and traditional heritage has become a hub of tourism. 39.5 million people are employed in the tourism sector and an approximate 6.6% of the GDP is generated from this sector alone[2]. Cleanliness causing a hindrance to the tourism industry de facto if a tourist spot is in a filthy condition then the basic hygiene of the place will be affected attracting lesser and lesser tourists day by day. If the defect is removed it will boost up the GDP rate. This will also help in preserving and securing the employment of the public at large in turn lessening the burden on the government to introduce job opportunities for the unemployed and help in reducing the poverty level. India ranks 55 in the Global Hunger Index[3], this ranking not only signifies the high poverty level and health issues but also signifies the avoidable huge expenditure made by the government on health issues. 4.1% of total expenditure was spent by the government on health issues in the year 2012. With the vicious circle of poverty comes the vicious circle of deadly diseases. When a person is unemployed his character, personality, health and his mind gets affected with the virus of poverty and gradually he is prone to deadly diseases. As estimated by the World Bank, illness from lack of hygiene cuts India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 6.4% a year.[4] The poor sanitation facilities have contributed largely to the disease burden in the country.  Mr Narendra Modi on 2nd October 2013 announced “Toilets first, Temples later”. Almost 1000 children die every day attributable to diarrhoeal infection, thus the children are more affected than adults. 58% of the whole Indian population defecate in the open fields leading to a loss of approximate 6500 rupee every year[5]. The native citizen can attribute poverty as a cause for low investment in the Health Sector, consequently leading to the damages. However, international statistics have a different story to tell, Bangladesh, for instance, has a GDP per capita $2475.97 compared to India’s $5238.02. “But in Bangladesh, now almost nobody defecates in the open. Poorer, water-scarce countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are transitioning to toilets,” says economist Dean Spears, who works at the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics, India.Moreover the problem of sanitation has targeted not only the health sector but also has led to several criminal activities such as rape, molestation and other sexual crimes. Sexual offences due to lack of sanitation facility gained worldwide attention in May 2014 when two girls from an Uttar Pradesh village were raped and hanged from a mango tree after they went outdoors to defecate.[6] Health issues forms a serious concern for Indian Government. There is a constant pressure on the government to provide free medical facilities for some deadly diseases. Ganges is regarded as the sacred river of the country. Everyday people bathe in the holy river exposing themselves to a myriad of fatal diseases. As per the reports, water of the river Ganga is unsafe for bathing because it contains faecal coliform bacteria (120 times higher than the permitted levels) in large amounts. Yet again one of the major reason for this anomaly is open defecation in our country.[7]

A healthy mind makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise leading to greater work productivity. Developed countries can be taken as the living examples of healthy citizens earning greater profits thus contributing to the ever growing GDP. All in all the campaign has undoubtedly proved to be effective till date but the campaign has certain loopholes. Firstly, the segregation of biodegradable and degradable waste lies questionable and is indeed a costly affair. Secondly, the mission has not stated the parts of the country where it will be applied. The Tamil Nadu local administration prior to the introduction of Swacchh Bharat Mission had launched Singara Chennai or Beautiful Chennai. The campaign followed almost the similar guidelines as the Swacchh Bharat mission. In Chennai at least 20,000 slum dweller families were evicted in the name of beautifying the city. They were relocated to tenements in Kannagi Nagar and Semmencheri that lie between 20 and 30 km from the city. Dirt here is a metaphor that could just as easily refer to people as to material objects.[8] Similarly, the initiative taken by some states to relocate the slum dwellers in well constructed houses leaves us wondering whether the gargantuan slums such as Dharavi shall also be taken into consideration where the population is almost equal to the population of a small city of US.

The lines of John C. Maxwell “A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”[9]  are perfectly apt for our Prime Minister who held a broom and cleaned the streets near the Rastriyapati Bhawan symbolizing his enthusiasm and his keen desire to make the country dirt free. A unique modus operandi has been adopted to make the mission successful. Round glasses of the Father of the Nation has been adopted as the logo of the campaign for a reminding us the vision of our Prime Minister in 2019. Our constitution has guaranteed the Right to Live that has been reflected in the Section 21A[10]. The right includes right to lead meaningful, complete and dignified life. It also includes clean environment that is essential for healthy living because when. Further the Directive Principles of State Policy under part VI of the constitution has clearly stated down Right to Pollution free water and air.[11]  Thus, the right becomes a sham with the dirty and the filthy condition of the roads and other public places. It is also the responsibility of our engineers to introduce new techniques and handy methods to convert the waste to useful materials. Hence, the time has come when we should show our responsibility towards our nation and should uphold the sacrifices of the martyrs by taking the responsibility of keeping our city clean as our moral and legal duty.