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Is Clean India Campaign inspired by Broken Windows Theory from Psychology

Even as he is worshipped as the harbinger of Swaraj, the Mahatma was an embodiment of a treasure trove of values imbibed with the power to change the face of India. You name it. Self-reliance, grassroots democracy etc; in each constructive endeavor, the pursuit for physical change was followed suit by an appeal for self-reform. Clean India Campaign/Swach Bharat Abhiyan which is a part of the mission for ‘Clean India Green India’ is a concentrated campaign to fulfill his ideals.

Mahatma Gandhi promoted cleaning of surroundings - Mythical India

So long as you do not take the broom and the bucket in your hands, you-cannot make your towns and cities clean Mahatma Gandhi

Alongside a battle against filth, Gandhi also led a battle against untouchability. With the launch of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA), India has been reminded of the need to carry on this twin battle with the added facet of self-reform.

1) The Broken Windows Theory: Drawing a parallel

Intrinsic to the idea behind Clean India Campaign, is the understanding of the ‘Broken Windows Theory’ propounded by James Wilson and George Kelling in 1982. The theory surmises that when anarchy and incivility at the community level are nipped in the bud, there will be no reawakening of heinous crimes.

The dramatic fall of crime and drugs in New York, is a perfect epitome of the right implementation of BWT. Adopting a swift arrest procedure hinging on zero tolerance policing, managed the near wipe-out of subway fare evaders, drinkers, etc.

Broken Windows Theory, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan draws parallels from this - Mythical India


Although originating in the realm of law and order, this theory effectively finds a place in the cleanliness campaign. The idea is to build a system that evokes response and not apathy to filthy environments and ensure that those adding to the filth, do not leave unscathed.

2) The vision & contours of Clean India Campaign / Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

The Clean India campaign was launched on 2nd October, 2014 with a multitude of ambitious goals. These include provision of sanitation facilities to every family- proper toilets, waste management systems, safe and adequate drinking water, etc. The mission seeks to achieve these by 2019, on the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma- a success that would mark the fulfillment of one of his many dreams.

Promotion of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as an individual prerogative - Mythical India


Funds running into crores have been channelized in numerous directions pertaining to the scheme and the entire country has been endorsed to pledge-

“I shall not litter, and won’t allow anyone to do so.”

3) A boost to participative democracy

The Modi government’s push at this campaign managed to create quite a stir; in the process giving boost to participative democracy, which again was cherished and supported by Gandhi. The weeks following the campaign’s inception saw villages pressing the Panchayats for the construction of toilets, a resurgence of green India students’ organizations and resident welfare associations stepping up awareness campaigns. The clarion call to abandon a laid back attitude to a cause for India’s shame, seems to have jolted the entire country awake to some extent.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been promoted as participative mission,Narendra Modi - Mythical India

4) The Ex-Endeavors and Clean India Campaign

The SBA is not a pioneering project in India in the field of cleanliness and sanitation, as previous governments too had chalked out a plethora of similar projects, such as ‘The Total Sanitation Campaign’; alas, with limited success.

NIrmal Bharat, cleaning missions before Swacch Bharat Abhiyan - Mythical India

SBA however, has the potential for a creative confrontation of the problem- an enhanced appeal for self-reform at the individual level, perhaps incentivized by rewards. This could ensure its sustainability, as opposed to the fallback of the effulgence of hitherto projects.

5) One-and half years of the campaign

It has been almost 2 years since the launch of this headline grabbing campaign tinged with the glamour of Bollywood celebrities and corporate barons. The short time span has thrown up certain success stories as well as disappointing failures.

 ‘Inspired by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the people of Gondwal in Ludhiana have been working hard to ensure that India achieves a clean image by 2019. To keep their village beautiful and green, the residents of Gondwal collect all their garbage in one place for decomposition. A joint undertaking of the residents and the panchayat to ensure that Ludhiana’s greenery is restored, this project is doing a world of good for the region.’

Residents of Gondowal in Ludhiana cleaning their village - Mythical India

 Stories of such kind emanate from other corners of rural India as well- such as Maharashtra’s Navlewadi, Odisha’s Koraput, UP’s Darora; all in their unique ways devising their own weapons to combat the filth and stench. Their concerted efforts are indeed laudable.

However, there is also evidence to suggest that the course of the campaign has seen the dwindling of the initial momentum. For instance, it has been found that Out of 1.42 lakh tonnes of garbage generated in urban regions every day, only 15% is being processed. Myriad obstacles have ensured that insanitary toilets and inadequate waste management continue to be a glaring reality.

6) The call of the Manual Scavengers

 “We cannot expect much hygiene while we are at work. But do we not deserve a break from the muck where we live?”

Manual scavengers - Mythical India

These sorrow-filled words flow from the lips of Jayashree Lakhan a 58 year old manual scavenger from Mumbai. They reflect a harsh reality that this campaign needs to address, a reality that must make its way to the conscience of every Indian if the country wants to see that golden moment of Clean India Campaign.

Written by Bhargavee Das

Bhargavee is an avid reader and wants to be a powerful voice in the advocacy of positive change. Apart from deep passion for writing, she loves playing keeping keyboard and watching movies of various genres.

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