“Bapu used to say, Be the change you want to see. Following this message, we all have set out with brooms in our hands”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech at Sabarmati on 2nd October 2019, marking the fifth year of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. India has been declared Open Defecation Free, a feat that underlines Modi government’s policy of taking development to the poorest.


Swachh Bharat: A Massive Feat

Ensuring that the fruits of development reach all is at the core of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas. A good quality of life is one of the key aspects of all-round development. For a healthy mind and a healthy nation, sanitation and cleanliness are essential components.

When the Modi government came into power in 2014, sanitation coverage was still a paltry 38.7%. Since its launch on 2nd October 2014, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has resulted in construction of over 10.75 crore toilets (as of November 2019). This has ensured quality of life for all the people in India, a fundamental necessity for any progressing nation. 

Ensuring a Healthy India

Health of the people is the foundation on which a nation’s wellbeing is based. Unless citizenry is healthy, it cannot positively contribute to the growth of the nation. The Economic Survey 2019 makes an interesting point by comparing the status of sanitation with the disease burden in that district. The study reveals that districts with higher coverage of Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) had significantly lower cases of diarrhea and malaria for children under the age of 5. The districts also showed lower cases of still birth and low birth weight compared to districts with lower IHHL coverage. This underlines the fact that improved sanitation leads to better health of the people.

Swachh Bharat Prevents Deaths: WHO Praises India

A report by World Health Organization has also highlighted the larger benefit of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. It says that achieving 100% Open Defecation Free (ODF) status could avert up to 3 lakh deaths due to diarrheal disease and protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) since the country launched the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014. The relation is self-explanatory as better sanitation leads to cleanliness. It prevents faecal matter from mixing with water resources, thus preventing diseases like diarrhea.

UNICEF says Groundwater Pollution Reduces

UNICEF conducted a study on various ODF and non-ODF villages of Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal. It was found that on an average, non-ODF villages were 11.25 times more likely to have their groundwater sources contaminated than the ODF villages. This shows that when open defecation is prevented, it prevents groundwater contamination as sustainable sewage disposal practices are adopted.


Swachh Bharat: A People’s Movement

Any scheme cannot be successful unless people participate wholeheartedly. It is this concept of Jan Bhagidari that was seen in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. PM Modi had once said, “Just as lakhs of Indians took the path of Satyagraha on Bapu’s appeal for gaining Independence, similarly Swachhagraha has also received the openhearted support of crores of Indians.” 

People voluntarily participated in spreading the word on cleanliness and working for it. Another aspect that is highlighted is the success of behavioral transformation. The creative advertisements like the Darwaja Band campaign, calling toilets as “Izzat Ghar” and mass awareness programmes led to a change in mindset of people. Effecting a mindset change in a huge and diverse nation of 130 crore people is in itself a revolutionary step.

Swachh Bharat gets International Recognition

India’s marvelous achievement in ensuring sanitation for all was appreciated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation awarded PM Modi with the Global Goalkeeper Award in 2019 as a mark of appreciation for the success of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Coincidentally, the same foundation had conducted a study covering 4,000 households across Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Karnataka. The study revealed that villages without ODF status had 46% more cases of diarrhea compared to villages with ODF status. Having studied the impact on the ground itself, it is natural that the foundation chose to honor PM Modi with the award. 

Coupled with PM Awas Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana, Mudra Yojana, Saubhagya, Digital India and many such schemes, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has improved the lives of common people in India.