Ever since Narendra Modi took the Prime Minister's office in 2014, he has taken deliberate attempts to evoke Mahatma Gandhi in his policies.
PM Modi recently announced the launch the 50KW 'Gandhi Solar Park' at the United Nations during his visit to the global institution. Around 193 solar panels, one for each UN member state, were installed on the roof of the New York headquarters.
Apart from the solar park, PM Modi also launched the Gandhi Peace Garden, in which the Consulate General of India in New York, in partnership with non-profit Shanti Fund and the State University of New York at Old Westbury, will plant 150 trees.
With initiatives like these, not only did Modi manage to pay tribute ahead of Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary on October 2, but he also successfully displayed his hard stance on climate change, all effectively tied up together.
Modi's invocation of Gandhi into his policies, especially on environment-related issues goes back to the launch of his flagship programme, the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan' (Clean India Campaign).
Launched on Gandhi Jayanti on October 2, 2014, the mission sought to clean up urban and rural infrastructure and aimed to achieve "open-defecation free" (OPF) India by 2019. The mission also aims to achieve the requirements of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which is a global call for clean water and sanitation.
Recently, a day after Modi claimed of Swacch Bharat's success in his speech at the 'Howdy, Modi!' event in Houston, the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation claimed that all 5,99,963 villages have become open defecation free.
Few days after his speech, Modi was also awarded the 'Global Goalkeeper Award' for the Swachh Mission by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The award drew international limelight on the success of Modi's environment campaign. Apart from West Bengal that has not adopted the initiative in the state, only four or five cities, towns and municipal areas that were part of the initiative have not been declared open defecation free, officials were quoted as saying by the Times of India.
However, in urban areas including the country's capital region, the mission has fallen short of its aims. Out of the 4,378 urban local bodies, 94 localities including those in North Delhi, Odisha, north-east regions, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have not achieved its ODF certification according to a report by the Economic Times.
In East Delhi, residents of the JJC Indira Camp, Nehru Nagar told this reporter earlier this year that the issue of sanitation continues to cause all sort of issues.
While the community has one public toilet that was built three years ago, female residents do not feel safe using the facilities and prefer to go to the nearby jungle for daily needs. Previous incidents of girls that have been sexually harassed by men have turned many female residents against using the public facility.
The US President Donald Trump, in his praise of Modi, called him the father of the nation and drew flak by the Congress who claimed that it is an 'insult' to Gandhi to be associated with Modi.
Modi's recent criticism, however, didn't end there. Swedish 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg who gave the thundering "How dare you" speech at the UN climate summit earlier this week also criticised Modi's climate change policies.
A video shot by Brut India posted on February 20, 2019, showed Greta addressing Modi and admonishing him against his business-centric approach and talking about "little victories" saying that he'll fail.
"Dear Mr Modi, you need to take action now against the climate crisis, not just talking about it because if you keep on going like this, doing business as usual, and just talking about and barging about the little victories, you are going to fail. And if you fail you're going to be seen as one of the worst villains in human history in the future. And you don't want that." she said.
Despite Modi's efforts, he is often criticised for appropriating Gandhi to mould into the nationalist identity of the country despite his past belongingness to Gandhi's assailant, Nathuram Godse's political party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).