President Ram Nath Kovind said that Swachh Bharat is a revolution playing out in real time. As an instrument of mass mobilisation, as a people’s movement, and as a national goal towards which there is near total commitment, Swachh Bharat represents the spirit of our Independence movement. India is striving to eliminate open defecation in its entirety by October 2, 2019. This is the best 150th birthday gift we can give Gandhiji, he added.
Inaugurating the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention in New Delhi today, he said that the Swachh Bharat Mission has been shaped by among the world’s leading specialists on sanitation. It has been scripted by common Indians of uncommon quality – men and women of rare courage, of foresight, social empathy and civic pride. Individually and collectively, they have worked to free their neighbourhoods, their villages and their towns and cities from open defecation.
Inch by inch, day by day, person by person, family by family, they have persuaded fellow citizens to adopt behaviour change. Our sanitation champions come from all regions of the country, all sections of society, all communities and all social and economic groups, he added.
President said that improving access to sanitation and eradicating open defecation have enormous implications. They are critical social and economic investments. The absence of a suitable toilet and appropriate hygiene and sanitation practices can lead to malnutrition and life-long disadvantages, he added.
“Therefore, for us in India – as elsewhere – a mission such as Swachh Bharat is critical to securing our human capital and our demographic dividend – and to giving our children a better future. No young girl should have to give up school only because a girls’ toilet is not available. Such an occurrence would be a scar on our collective conscience” Kovind said.