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India's losing battle to save the holy Ganges

The polluted river is only the latest victim of the country's dysfunctional governments

| India
A man cleans garbage along the banks of the river Ganges in Kolkata in April.   © Reuters

Of all the formidable tasks facing Narendra Modi when he took office as India's prime minister in 2014, beginning the work of saving the holy river Ganges from pollution should have been the easiest. The plan was supported by more than a billion Hindus, had clear benefits for health and the economy, and was politically uncontroversial.

So the depressing news that very little has been achieved in the three and a half years since his election victory does not mean that Modi and Indian voters care nothing for their sacred river. On the contrary, it demonstrates how difficult it is to govern India, and how hard it is to get important things done in the country, even when everything seems to be working in the government's favor.

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