25 July, 2021

Dump Struck

Cleaning India can’t be a superficial thing. Can Modi choke off our industry of filth?

Priyanka Rai
Dump Struck

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was in Varanasi in February 1916 on Madan Mohan Malaviya’s invitation when, during an address, he sought the permission of the chair to digress and recalled his visit to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, voicing his anguish at the dirt and squalor he saw all around it. Would the temples become clean after the British left the country, he wondered aloud in a stinging admonition. Nearly a century later, 67 years after the Brits left, nothing has changed in the timeless temple town; in fact, it’s grown worse (see box). As if on cue, the latest Gujarati visitor to Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has pledged to clean up not just his constituency but the entire country in the next five years, apparently his way of saying ‘thank you’ to the Mahatma in the sesquicentenary of his birth, 2019.

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