Bureaucrats to trade the pen for the broom

Bureaucrats to trade the pen for the broom

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered his bureaucrats to come in to work to clean up their offices - including toilets - on the national holiday to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi's birthday tomorrow.

The move is part of a nationwide cleanliness drive to be launched by Mr Modi, who is expected to take a broom to the capital's dirty streets.

The initiative has sparked grumblings by officials who say the request to work cannot be ignored.

Mr Modi has cracked down on officials since storming to power in May elections, demanding they turn up to work at 9am and also making unannounced visits to government offices.

"We have already been turning up on time and working till late. Now that we have been asked to wield the broom, we might as well do so," one reluctant official told AFP.

"My children are upset that I will have to go to the office even on a national holiday."

But another official was upbeat, saying it was an important step in ridding India of its entrenched class system.

The officer in the power ministry told AFP, "It is an unprecedented sanitation movement. Wielding the broom is a powerful symbol. It shows that no work is mean and that each one of us should be responsible for cleaning up our waste."

Sanitation was close to the heart of independence hero Gandhi, who used to clean latrines himself at a time when there were no flush toilets.

This article was first published on October 1, 2014.
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