South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Clean India! Swachh Bharat! Obstacles and Advantages

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Virginia Suite B, Lobby Level

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Clean India! or Swachh Bharat campaign on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday in 2014 with the promise of a much cleaner India by Gandhi’s birthday in 2019. The problems of public sanitation in India have puzzled and confounded observers from Florence Nightingale to Mahatma Gandhi to Modi himself. This presentation examines obstacles to achieving a cleaner India by the promised date of 2 October 2019 and also at attributes working in favour of some success. Two of the obstacles appear to be unique to India. Volume and density are one:  modernizing India creates immense quantities of waste and India’s large population means there are ever-diminishing places to dispose of it. The second obstacle is caste: widely held beliefs and practices add to the difficulties of achieving pervasive change in behaviours relating to tainted, thrown-away things. Working in favour of Swachh Bharat are old practices of frugality; expanding networks of “kabaadi culture” (recycling before “recycling” was a word); global experience and science; and dynamic entrepreneurs, officials, NGOs and citizens demonstrating small-scale achievements in localities around the country.

Robin Jeffrey

Institute of South Asian Studies Singapore, Victoria, Australia


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1 - Clean India! Swachh Bharat! Obstacles and Advantages

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