Television is undoubtedly a very powerful medium to reach the masses of the country. Most houses may not have an attached toilet but they do own a television set. This is possibly the reason for PM Modi to nominate the crew of the popular TV serial ‘Taarak Mehta ka Ooltah Chashmah’ to join him in the biggest cleanliness drive that India has ever seen – the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Mission Clean India.
Moreover the storyline of Taarak Mehta ka Ooltah Chashmah (TMKOC) represents a mini India with its maze of characters from different parts of the country living together like one big family in the fictional Gokuldham Co-op Society in Mumbai. The show has been airing since 2008 on SAB TV and per ratings is a popular TV fiction show in the country.
Modi’s ambitious goal with the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ is to put an end to ‘open defecation’ and make India a disease free country and safer for women and young girls. With the aim to make India ‘clean’ by October 2, 2019, Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, Modi embarked on this important mission by instilling a sense of patriotism in the citizens.
Clean India is also making great use of the power and reach of social media.
Apart from crowdsourcing the logo and slogan for the mission, Modi asked citizens to take photos of garbage, upload them on social media, upload videos of them cleaning the spot, and finally upload a picture of the clean spot. He also invited nine people – Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, former Congress spokesperson Shashi Tharoor, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, actors Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Kamal Haasan, industrialist Anil Ambani, yoga practitioner Baba Ramdev, along with the crew of TMKOC. They have been asked to further nominate another nine, and so on.
TMKOC is taking the mission further with the launch of ‘TMKOC My Clean India’ contest on digital. The contest has a 3-step simple process powered by a dedicated website.
1) iSee – When you see an unclean area, take a picture and upload it to the website’s ‘iSee’ section.
2) iClean – If you choose to clean the area, take a picture during the act and upload it to the ‘iClean’ section.
3) iMakeMyIndiaClean – After the area is clean, take a picture and upload it to the ‘iMakeMyIndiaClean’ section.
Participants can stand a chance to be felicitated by the TMKOC actors in Gokuldham society. The ‘Gallery’ section has pictures of the crew cleaning up places.
Apart from the website, TMKOC is also leveraging Facebook and Twitter for spreading the word. The show is using its official Twitter handle to share about the mission. The contest has also been spread through a YouTube video where the main protagonists Jethalal and Jaya urge people to join in the mission.
— TMKOC (@tmkoc_ntf) December 3, 2014
— TMKOC (@tmkoc_ntf) December 4, 2014
Television goes digital
India might be the fastest growing smartphone market in Asia but most of it is still dominated by feature phones. We are nearing a cusp where the newly elected Modi government is looking to usher in a digitally connected movement through its highly ambitious ‘Digital India’ program. But at present, poor internet infrastructure and expensive data plans have stood in the way of mass communication. Citizens might be equipped with the influx of value-for-money smartphones but data costs are still a hurdle. Taking pictures and uploading it will only be restricted to the urban population.
Despite all this, the TMKOC team are encouraging its viewers to join in for the sake of the country, apart from looking at it as a privilege to be nominated by the PM. The concept of Swachh Bharat is a smart one – it urges you to act and share your cleanliness task on social media. Its like a fun tagging campaign – much like the Ice Bucket challenge – but only smarter as it involves taking pride in patriotism.
Clean India might be an uphill mission but these steps by a popular TV show are a good start. My society too celebrated a swachhta divas this Sunday where residents armed with brooms and gunny bags cleaned up the society. So great initiative by Modi, Team TMKOC and cheers to the power of social media!