KUMBH MELA – The Swacch Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India Mission was launched on October 2nd, 2014 as a major government initiative with the goal of making India ‘clean’ by the same date in 2019. When Prime Minister Modi initiated the campaign, he declared that, “A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019.” The goal of the mission is to improve the levels of cleanliness in India through better awareness and management of solid and liquid waste to make urban and rural India Open Defecation Free (ODF), clean, and sanitized.
According to Prime Minister Modi’s website,
“Citizens too have turned out in large numbers and pledged for a neat and cleaner India. Taking the broom to sweep the streets, cleaning up the garbage, focusing on sanitation and maintaining a hygienic environment have become a practice after the launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. People have started to take part and are helping spread the message of ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness.’”
Nonetheless, one official noted that “People still use the word ‘dirty’ when referring to toilet seats. How will they learn to treat human waste properly unless they take care of it the same way as any other part of the house?”
With the end of the campaign less than eight months away, public support has gathered momentum. So much so, in fact, that some have taken imaginative measures to help propagate the message.
Safai Vidyalaya has created an open-air café where people can enjoy a cup of tea and a conversation while seated at a glass-top table on glass-covered commodes. Instead of being served a regular menu (other than the tea), visitors are educated about why they should build toilets in their houses.
The walls of the café are adorned with messages about cleanliness, the need for households to include properly functioning sanitation facilities, and the goal for all of India to become truly Open Defecation Free.
A woman visiting from Delhi found the café captivating, commenting that, “Due to the novelty of the concept, it is grabbing a lot of eyeballs, so I am sure that it will put across the message . . . among the masses who visit the Kumbh Mela in large numbers.”
Anyone for a cup of tea?
For a more, in-depth look at the need to eliminate open defecation, read the GFA Special Report, “Saving Lives at Risk from Open Defecation – Using Outdoor Toilets to Improve Sanitation.”
To read more news on Open Defecation Free on Missions Box, go here.
- Times of India, The toilet cafe at Kumbh delivers a unique message
- Prime Minister of India, Major Initiatives – Swacch Bharat Abhiyan
- Screengrab from YouTube/Times of India