Even as the Narendra Modi-led government’s ambitious cleanliness programme ‘Swaccha Bharat Abhiyaan’ started on the occasion of 145th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, few Muslim bodies and intellectuals have criticized the move.
Calling as “tinkering with grandeur and sobriety” the spectacle that the cleanliness campaign ultimately became, Jasim mohammad, secretary general of the Forum for Muslim Studies and Analysis (FMSA) said, “The programme associated with Gandhi’s birthday must not be diluted with this so called fad for cleanliness day. Cleanliness has to be actually maintained and not by calling to duty all government employees to make them go through hypocrisy of a photo opportunity.”
Jasim reminded the government of Gandhi’s philosophy, expressed first in 1921 and then in 1947 which goes thus: “I would say that Hindus and Muslims are the two eyes of Mother India just as the trouble in one eye affects the other too, similarly the whole of India will suffer when either Hindus or Muslims suffer.”
The Hyderabad-based Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMC) termed the Narendra Modi government’s plan of complete sanitation in next five years, including getting rid of open defecation and smart management of both solid and liquid waste across the country as a “big drama” in the name of tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.
“Is it only the roads and the surroundings that have to be cleaned? Is it only to be part of school curriculum? What about the pollution and the dangerous wastage that is coming out from the industries, the multi-national companies? Will this Swach Bharat Abhiyaan break the caste barriers? Will the downtrodden who have been working as scavengers and sweepers will ever be rid of these menial jobs as part of Swach Bharat Abhiyaan?” were some of the questions raised by the CLMC general secretary Lateef Mohammed Khan.
The depressed communities should not be forced to carry out the menial jobs and manual scavenging should be banned, a release from Khan said, adding, “CLMC demands that the government make serious efforts at implementing all the prevalent acts and laws to prevent open defecation and help these communities.”