‘Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, clean frequently touched surfaces and objects’ are public health measures advised by experts to fight COVID-19. In short, a step towards cleanliness and personal hygiene are significant ways to win this pandemic. Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission has started working on these lines years before, even at grassroot levels, for the welfare of citizens across the country.
Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched country-wide in 2014 with the target to eliminate open defecation and achieve better solid waste management in urban and rural India. What seemed impossible for the outer world was made easy by active participation of the people of India and their initiative in achieving this big feat.
SBM has become very crucial at this moment of the pandemic, reminding us all how sanitation and hygiene are crucial to prevent diseases. At the same time the passion with which every village and citizen has adorned this mission making it a people’s revolution is also a reminder that nothing is impossible if we the people fight together for a common cause.
After the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission, India’s face has transformed from a country with the highest number of people practising open defecation, to more than six lakh villages becoming Open Defecation Free (ODF). The pillars behind the success of this mission are its 6,50,000 volunteers, or Swachhagrahis, mostly the youth and women who promoted this at the village level, making it a people’s movement.
In order to document such a mass movement, National Geographic channel in collaboration with Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation has come together to make a film titled ‘Swachh Bharat: India’s Sanitary Revolution’. The film has been premiered at a special screening for the President of India at Rashtrapati Bhawan in March this year. It has also been screened on the NatGeo channel. It is now available on YouTube channel of Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen, where it has been virtually premiered on May 27, 2020.
The film portrays not just the success of the mission but the struggles, fights and innovations involved in convincing rural India about the significance of using toilets. The Swachhagrahis or the ‘Ambassadors of cleanliness’, mostly women, share their journey in executing the mission at the ground level. How difficult was it for a housewife, a Swachhagrahi, to educate the villagers about personal and public hygiene? How did a group of school going kids who wanted their village to be ODF convince the elders to use toilets? What measures were taken by the government to make this a people’s movement? The film has answers to all these questions and even more.
The film is a reminder to every Indian and every community that the determination to work together will always lead us to success. Any mission undertaken by the people of the country will guarantee benefits not only to the individual or the society but to the nation as well.
Now, when every country is fighting together to protect its people from the pandemic, let’s take inspiration from India’s largest cleanliness drive that has changed the face of many villages and has brought smiles and good health to its people.
Let’s win this too!