PM Modi's Other 'Sweeping' Victory? Swachh Bharat Campaign Launches Today

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Ministers pick up the broom for PM Narendra Modi's 'Clean India' campaign.

New Delhi:  Buildings around Rajpath, the road that leads from the Rashtrapati Bhawan to India Gate in the heart of Delhi, were sanitised and sealed from Wednesday evening in preparation for the Swachh Bharat  Abhiyan or Clean India campaign on Thursday, the police said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the nationwide drive at Rajpath today, October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, with a cleanliness pledge that about 30 lakh government employees will take all over the country.

Mr Modi has ordered bureaucrats and ministers to be at work today, leading their departments in cleaning their offices, including toilets. He too is expected to take a broom to the streets of Valmiki Sadan, a housing colony in the capital where sanitation workers live.

The drive is partly aimed at sprucing up government offices which are often littered with rubbish, stink of urine and have walls dirtied with dried spit. In recent days, ministers like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani and Ram Vilas Paswan have been seen sweeping parts of their offices.

Advertisements in newspapers recently urged residents of Delhi to "come forward in large numbers" for the programme's launch.

Mr Modi has stressed the importance of sanitation in almost all his public speeches since his May victory, vowing to make India clean by 2019, to coincide with the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi.

During the freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi had said "sanitation was more important than independence."

Roughly half of India's population do not have toilets in their homes, a health and safety problem that Mr Modi has also vowed to fix.

In a joint editorial written with the PM on Tuesday in the Washington Post, President Barack Obama said that the US will help with the Clean India initiative.  

After taking office in May, the PM asked his ministers to ensure their departments are tidied up and that officers report to work at 9 am. Ministers like Prakash Javadekar have conducted surprise checks, penalising those employees who were late.

The cleanliness drive has had a noticeable impact on shabby government offices, with broken equipment, dangling wires and tonnes of dusty files thrown away.

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