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Modi launches 'Clean India' initiative, says Swachh Bharat Mission beyond politics

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New Delhi (Oct 2, 2014): Explaining that keeping India clean was beyond politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi coopted a brace of celebrities including at least one active member of the Congress to take the Swachh Bharat campaign forward.

The PM himself launched the programme amid tight security at Raj Path (where there was no discernible rubbish) by taking a broom and sweeping the road. He then went to a Valmiki Basti on Delhi’s Mandir Marg and made an unscheduled stop at a police station nearby where he used the broom to sweep the station clean and told policemen it was their duty to keep the premises tidy and clean at all times. 

The PM announced initiating a chain by inviting nine eminent personalities including cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, industrialist Anil Ambani, actress Priyanka Chopra, actor Salman Khan and Kamal Hassan and others to spread awareness on cleanliness. Tendulkar, also  a Rajya Sabha MP, was in the news recently for not having had the time to attend the sittings of the Rajya Sabha mandatory for an MP. 

Interesting omissions from the list of campaigners were Amitabh Bachhan and Lata Mangeshkar  -both avowed admirers of the PM.

An idea derived from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, he asked the celebrities to nominate nine more people to join the campaign and hoped that the chain would continue.

Others who are part of the campaign are Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, yoga guru Ramdev and the team of TV serial "Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma".

Modi also administered a plege to thousands of people, including schoolschildren and government employees at Rajpath to remain committed to cleanliness to make the country clean.

"I will remain committed towards cleanliness and devote time for this...I will neither litter nor let others litter," pledged all those present at a function to mark the launch of "Swachh Bharat" (Clean India) mission at India Gate by the Prime Minister.

Actor Aamir Khan also joined the PM in taking the pledge along with Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Venkaiah Naidu and offered to become a brand ambassador for the Clean India campaign. Anil Ambani said he was honoured to be part of the campaign.

"I have invited nine people and asked them to come to public places and work towards a Clean India. I ask them to invite nine more people too...I am sure these nine people will do the work and each will invite nine more people to form a chain and clean the country," Modi said.

The original ice bucket challenge where such a chain was created online was designed to raise funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and motor neurone disease, which is a global viral phenomenon

Modi also announced starting a campaign on cleanliness through social media using his website MyGov.in and other such websites, including a new one dedicated to the clean India campaign. All the people he has chosen for his team are those who have huge following on the social media.

The PM later joined the children in the Walkathon after flagging it off at Rajpath. The Walkathon is part of steps for creating awareness on cleanliness.

Administering the pledge to countrymen on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi today, Modi highlighted the Father of the Nation's thrust on cleanliness and said the country must realise his unfulfilled dream of a clean India on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019.

"Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of an India which was not only free but also clean and developed. Mahatma Gandhi secured freedom for Mother India. Now, it is our duty to serve Mother India by keeping the country neat and clean," said the first lines of the pledge.

The pledge further takes the promise from every individual to remain committed to cleanliness and devote time for this.

"I will devote 100 hours per year -- that is two hours per week -- to voluntary work for cleanliness. I will neither litter nor let others litter.

"I will initiate the quest for cleanliness with myself, my family, my locality, my village and my work place. I believe that the countries of the world that appear clean are so because their citizens don’t indulge in littering nor do they allow it to happen. With this firm belief, I will propagate the message of Swachh Bharat Mission in villages and towns," reads the pledge.

It also exhorts all to encourage 100 other persons to take this pledge and endeavour to make them devote their 100 hours for cleanliness.