Just recollect travelling by train in India, a few years back. You must have noticed, when morning trains leave rail stations in Indian capital-Delhi, you look outside, what you see? Hordes of men and women defecating in open, making the landscape dirtier. Not only in India, it happens elsewhere in the world too. About 892 million people, or 12 percent of the global population practice Open Defecation (OD). It is linked to poverty and health, so ending OD is an indicator used to measure progress toward the sustainable development goals too. The mounds of garbage, open defecation, filth littered on streets makes the environment stinking, ugly and unhealthy. This could naturally make many of you think not to visit India again, no matter how spiritual India is, how tasty the cuisine India serves is and beautiful forts and terrains India boasts of. But the great news is here, the current government in India has attached top priority to cleanliness including ending OD by 2019. Great intent and solid actions too, so keep visiting India; you have lot many things to see and enjoy here. We are committed to make India clean and green, we are working on it, and we are going to succeed. You might be wondering, how we are going to do this?
The Indian Government has launched Clean India Mission (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan) – a campaign to make India clean. The campaign aims to achieve the vision of a ‘Clean India’ by 2nd October 2019. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a campaign that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s cities, smaller towns, and rural areas. A range of programmes have been launched to tackle the problem at different levels in cities, towns and villages across the country. “A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150 birth anniversary in 2019,” said Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, while launching the Swachh Bharat Mission in New Delhi on 2nd October 2014. Shri Narendra Modi led a cleanliness pledge at India Gate, which about thirty lakh government employees across the country joined including me. A great mission indeed, we all are committed to accomplish this.
The objectives of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan include eliminating open defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets and establishing a responsible system of monitoring toilet use. The mission aims to achieve an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, by constructing 12 million toilets in rural India at a projected cost of about US$30 billion. It’s a mammoth exercise the government of India has undertaken. We, the Indians are making efforts to see its success. No more filth, mounds of garbage, dirty streets and surroundings anywhere in India beyond 2019- a noble goal indeed. I believe, we should have done it much earlier.
We at our institute – the 127 years old ICAR – Indian Veterinary Research Institute doing our part in this mission too. Among several activities we are engaged, I wish to share one here, which I loved doing the most. We identified a rural school where existed dilapidated and non functional toilets- forcing young girls and boys to urinate and defecate in open. Not only a matter of sanitation and public health, It’s surely an issue of human dignity too. We joined hands together, worked on making the girls toilets functional by putting up toilet sheets, tiles, water tank and water pipes. Our colleagues donated some money voluntarily and we did all the manual work and plumbing. The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Farm Science Centre) of our institute has made a video covering this effort towards cleaner India. This is just one small story, many citizens and institutions are doing lot many things at many different places across India. We know it too well that it is daunting task. We have to walk miles still before we could realize the noble goal of making India cleaner and greener. We are readying to welcome you all to cleaner & greener India-plan your next trip to my country- to experience new India.