Swachh Mangaluru Abhiyan For Swachh Bharath
The Vedanta Kesari|November 2019
A Journey from a Campaign to a Revolution!
Swami Ekagamyananda

Five years ago the Government of India requested Ramakrishna Mission to actively participate in the Swachh Bharath Abhiyan. The call was to conduct cleanliness campaigns every week for five years from 2 Oct 2014. The goal was to achieve a clean India as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019. Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Mangaluru answered this call in a manner that transformed the campaign into a revolution! The story of this adventure is presented here in the words of Swami Ekagamyananda who led the movement.

Towards the end of September 2014, our headquarters at Belur Math instructed us to take up the Swachh Bharath Abhiyan and inspire our devotees and the people of Mangaluru to participate in the cleanliness drive. Initially, I was not enthusiastic about getting involved in this Abhiyan. I saw it as a Central Government project and also thought that given the huge fan following of the Prime Minister our service would not be required for the success of the campaign. Furthermore, I felt that our time and energy could be better utilized in more essential fields of service.

Ramakrishna Mission has always worked in areas that are usually neglected by others. We step in only when a real need is perceived and then tirelessly work for its fulfillment. Here we can refer to two such projects successfully undertaken by the Mangaluru ashrama. One is the Balakashram, a hostel run in the Math premises for meritorious high school boys hailing from poor families in and around the Malnad region of Karnataka. Malnad which is situated on the slopes of the Western Ghats is a tough terrain of hills, rivers, streams, and waterfalls and the interior villages do not have high schools within walking distance. Most of the students, even meritorious ones, drop out of school after primary education. Selected students from this category are admitted to our Balakashram.

The second project was born of a survey conducted in the local area. When we visited the local schools we came to know the plight of students coming from the lowest economic rung of the society—children of laborers and slum dwellers. They came to school hungry, ill-clad and dirty and they were also poor in studies because there was no one to guide them. To serve these unfortunate children, we started in our Math the ‘Vivekananda Coaching Center’. Every evening nearly 150 students from class 4 to 10, receive tuition classes for two hours. After the class, they are given nutritious food and milk. Every year they are given a uniform, books, school bags, and umbrellas. Routine health checkups are conducted. They are provided with soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair oil, etc., and encouraged to be clean and tidy. Also every Sunday they received cultural and spiritual training. All these services are provided free of cost.

Swachh Bharath Abhiyan began on a grand scale at Rajghat, New Delhi on 2 Oct 2014 with the slogan ‘One step towards cleanliness’. The Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi had earnestly requested our countrymen and women to dedicate at least 2 hours per week— around 100 hours in a year—for this Abhiyan. I imagined that millions of government officials and enthusiastic students would participate and this Abhiyan would be a giant leap in the progress of our country. But I was wrong! By the end of the month, everything was back to square one. At many places, the Abhiyan was limited only to the exhibition of banners. A few people took brooms in their hands and posed for photos and publicity and people continued dumping garbage on roadsides!

This prompted us to earnestly take up this project in Mangaluru and strive to create a role model Swachh Bharath Abhiyan. We worked hard for two months and prepared a plan to make this campaign a success. The major task was to present to the Mangloreans the concept of a Clean India. The first step we decided would be to clean the city and remove the garbage heaped in almost every street corner. For this, we needed a workforce of dedicated volunteers. We contacted devotees, schools and colleges and the general public of Mangaluru. Wherever I went, I was welcomed with the words, ‘No Swamiji, it will not work. It is an impossible task.’ They said such a campaign would never succeed in Mangaluru because most of the people here work in schools, colleges, and offices. And who would volunteer to pick stinking garbage from the roadside! ‘Nobody will come for shramadan at 7 AM on Sunday mornings’ they discouraged me.

But I didn’t lose hope. ‘Come what may, we will take up the project at least for a year as an experiment, if nobody comes I will sweep the roads alone’, was my thought. We launched the ‘Swachh Mangaluru for Swachh Bharath’ Abhiyan on 30 January 2015, which is the Martyr’s Day. Our program began with a rally of 2000 students, an oath-taking ceremony and honoring of 100 Pour karmas or Corporation workers.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM THE VEDANTA KESARIView All

Meditation According To Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita deals elaborately with several aspects of meditation. This article presents these thoughts, especially from the sixth chapter.

9 mins read
The Vedanta Kesari
September 2021

The Order on the March

News & Notes from Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission

2 mins read
The Vedanta Kesari
September 2021

Pariprasna

Srimat Swami Tapasyananda Ji (1904 – 1991) was one of the Vice-Presidents of the Ramakrishna Order. His deeply convincing answers to devotees’ questions raised in spiritual retreats and in personal letters have been published in book form as Spiritual Quest: Questions & Answers. Pariprasna is a selection from this book.

5 mins read
The Vedanta Kesari
September 2021

Book Reviews

Irish-born Margaret Noble, initiated into the service of India as Sister Nivedita by her guru Swami Vivekananda, left indelible footprints in her adopted country as a fearless crusader for the betterment of the nation groaning under the yoke of a tyrannical imperialist rule. Her speeches and writings, her innumerable proactive endeavours and her complete commitment to India need to be reiterated and reclaimed.

5 mins read
The Vedanta Kesari
September 2021

Gadadhar begins His Divine Play

A fictional narrative based on incidents from the childhood of Sri Ramakrishna.

3 mins read
The Vedanta Kesari
September 2021

Bhavanath Chattopadhyay

यमेिै्षिृणुते तेन लभययः It is attained by him alone whom It chooses (Kathopanishad. 1.2:23). This is the fifteenth story in the series on devotees who had a role in the divine play of Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna.

4 mins read
The Vedanta Kesari
September 2021

The Honeycomb in the Mountain

A fictional narrative based on incidents from the childhood of Swami Vivekananda.

3 mins read
The Vedanta Kesari
August 2021

Questions & Answers

Srimat Swami Tapasyananda Ji (1904 – 1991) was one of the Vice-Presidents of the Ramakrishna Order. His deeply convincing answers to devotees’ questions raised in spiritual retreats and in personal letters have been published in book form as Spiritual Quest: Questions & Answers. Pariprasna is a selection from this book.

2 mins read
The Vedanta Kesari
August 2021

God and the world

God alone is the Master, and again, He is the Servant. This attitude indicates Perfect Knowledge. At first one discriminates, ‘Not this, not this’, and feels that God alone is real and all else is illusory. Afterwards the same person finds that it is God Himself who has become all this — the universe, maya, and the living beings. First negation and then affirmation. This is the view held by the Puranas.

1 min read
The Vedanta Kesari
August 2021

The Blue Plaque in London

Blue Plaque is a scheme under which London keeps its history alive by marking out buildings and places associated with eminent people of the past. One such Blue Plaque building is associated with Swami Vivekananda. In 1896, on his second visit to England, Swamiji stayed here along with his brother-disciple Swami Saradananda, his disciple J.J.Goodwin, his younger brother Mahendranath Datta who was there to pursue higher studies, and an American friend. Dr Vayu Naidu who lives in London draws attention to this building sanctified by the two swamis’ stay. This article was commissioned by the Royal Literary Fund when the author was a Fellow at Royal Holloway University College London in 2019 and was originally an audio podcast broadcast by RLF VOX on social media.

8 mins read
The Vedanta Kesari
August 2021
RELATED STORIES

Six new Omicron cases in K'taka, tally reaches 14

Fear of community outbreak remains as 5 students from 2 clusters test positive in DK

1 min read
The New Indian Express
December 19, 2021

FARM TO TABLE

Bengaluru-based FarmLore by Kaushik Raju focuses on clean flavours and superlative presentation

2 mins read
Livingetc India
October 2021

KNIGHT AT 99

Mangaluru’s nonagenarian traffic warden and his squad are on a mission to make roads safe

10 mins read
THE WEEK
March 14, 2021

Trust deficit

A second wave of Covid-19 infections has created an air of mistrust and reignited communal tensions in Bhatkal

4 mins read
THE WEEK
May 24, 2020

FREE FOR ALL!

It was a mixed bag, with both privateers and factory teams peppering the leaderboard

1 min read
Motor Sport India
January - February 2020

New vids show M'luru rioters wreaking havoc

NEARLY a week after violent protests in Mangaluru against the amended citizenship law resulted in the death of two people in police firing, the police have released video clippings of protesters indulging in vandalism, through social media.

1 min read
The New Indian Express Chennai
December 25, 2019

Two die in police firing in Mangaluru as anti-CAA protests rock the country

Marchers take to the streets, defy prohibitory orders in many places and brave police crackdowns

3 mins read
The Hindu
December 20, 2019

6 Ways To Handle Failures In Entrepreneurship

“It’s impossible to fail if you learn from your mistakes” quotes late Steve Jobs, Apple founder and former CEO.

4 mins read
Small Enterprise
August 2019

Now, Robots Count Cash At Bank's Currency Chests

MUMBAI: A private-sector lending major has become the first in the country to deploy industrial ‘Robotic Arms’ to count millions of currency notes at its currency chests across the country, a top official said here on Wednesday.

1 min read
Millennium Post Delhi
August 29, 2019