‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ or the ‘Clean India Mission’ is India’s biggest cleanliness campaign that aims to accomplish the vision of a “Clean India” by 2 October 2019, coinciding with Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.
The campaign was launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 2 October 2014 at Rajghat in New Delhi, where he picked up a broom and kick-started the campaign by cleaning up a road.
The mission is not just about cleaning up roads but about developing a cleaner and healthier lifestyle across India. It includes specific objectives such as construction of household and community toilets, better waste management practices, capacity building of government departments to facilitate this mission along with empowering the masses with information as well as education.
The five-year mission is expected to cost the public purse $10 billion with contributions from both the central and state governments (75:25 respectively and 90:10 for North-Eastern and special category states) along with expected contributions from corporates as well as individual philanthropists.
The socio-economic impact of Swachh Bharat is expected to be far wider than just the investment and the donations. As Manoj Ladwa, Publisher and CEO of India Inc., recently wrote the “scheme to build millions of toilets across both urban and rural India is actually a disguised stimulus package.
Over the next five years, the government and the private sector will spend about $23 billion on this scheme, thus, setting in motion a construction boom that will reverberate across scores of industries that will supply bricks, cement, steel, sanitary ware, plumbing and other raw materials”.
Assuming a very low multiplier effect of $3 per $1 invested, this scheme to build toilets would add around $70 billion to India’s GDP over the next five years.
However, it is not just about the economics – having toilets in households especially in rural India would also have a knock on effect on the safety and security of women, which in itself is a worthwhile cause to pursue as is the intended effect of lower health expenditures through improved public health across India.
India Inc. will be driving its own parallel mission through a series of on and offline activities which will track the practicalities of various projects such as Municipal Solid Waste Management and the linked Clean Ganga programme.
Waste management is among the biggest challenges faced by any rapidly-expanding economy and India seems keen not to waste any time in coming to grips with it.