World

Millions across India pick up brooms and dustpans to clean up public spaces

  • An Indian vegetable vendor covers her nose from the smell of garbage scattered on the road in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, is usually a public holiday across India. This year, however, the government has ordered officials in India's gargantuan bureaucracy and schoolchildren from all the city schools to take the pledge to spread the message of cleanliness and tidy up their offices, schools and nearby streets. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

    An Indian vegetable vendor covers her nose from the smell of garbage scattered on the road in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, is usually a public holiday across India. This year, however, the government has ordered officials in India's gargantuan bureaucracy and schoolchildren from all the city schools to take the pledge to spread the message of cleanliness and tidy up their offices, schools and nearby streets. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Indian ragpickers search for reusable garbage at a dumping ground in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.  October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, is usually a public holiday across India. This year, however, the government has ordered officials in India's gargantuan bureaucracy and schoolchildren from all the city schools to take the pledge to spread the message of cleanliness and tidy up their offices, schools and nearby streets. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

    Indian ragpickers search for reusable garbage at a dumping ground in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, is usually a public holiday across India. This year, however, the government has ordered officials in India's gargantuan bureaucracy and schoolchildren from all the city schools to take the pledge to spread the message of cleanliness and tidy up their offices, schools and nearby streets. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)  (The Associated Press)

  • Indian ragpickers search for reusable garbage at a dumping ground in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.  October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, is usually a public holiday across India. This year, however, the government has ordered officials in India's gargantuan bureaucracy and schoolchildren from all the city schools to take the pledge to spread the message of cleanliness and tidy up their offices, schools and nearby streets. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

    Indian ragpickers search for reusable garbage at a dumping ground in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, is usually a public holiday across India. This year, however, the government has ordered officials in India's gargantuan bureaucracy and schoolchildren from all the city schools to take the pledge to spread the message of cleanliness and tidy up their offices, schools and nearby streets. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)  (The Associated Press)

Millions of schoolchildren, officials and ordinary people pick up brooms and dustpans to join a countrywide campaign to clean parks, public buildings and streets.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept the road in a poor neighborhood in New Delhi on Thursday while launching the Clean India Campaign.

Modi chose the birth anniversary of independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi to launch the five-year drive to clean public spaces aimed at changing India's image as one of the filthiest countries in the world.

The campaign was preceded by a media blitz exhorting every citizen to take a pledge to tidy up their homes and offices. Cabinet ministers, police and industry leaders have been clearing files and disposing clutter in their offices all week as part of the campaign.