Sulabh International Social Service Organisation organised a gala event at Mavalankar Hall in New Delhi
For the first time in India it so happened that a prime minister utilised his stature to make his countrymen realise a valuable lesson – to develop a healthy habit of cleanliness and fulfill the dream of a ‘Swachh Bharat’ (clean India) that our father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, our beloved Bapu, saw.
The prime minister not only spoke big words but actually took it upon himself to begin a drive of swachhata. He picked up a broom on the Mahatma’s 145th birth anniversary on October 2, 2014, swept streets, encouraged the nation to join hands with him in the cleanliness drive, and thus began the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’.
This prime minister is Narendra Modi, whose birthday falls on September 17. And what better way to wish such a legend than marking the day as ‘Swachhata Divas’ (a day of service)? That is what Sulabh International Social Service Organisation has been doing since 2015. This year again, on the 68th birthday of the PM, a celebration like none other took place at the Mavalankar Hall in New Delhi.
The celebration was graced by the presence of Union Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar as the chief guest, Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as the presiding over guest and eminent poet and journalist Pt. Suresh Neerav as the guest of honour.
The two union ministers unveiled a larger-than-lifesize ladoo weighing 568 kg, whilst little school children enthusiastically cheered, sung ‘Happy Birthday’, and waved their pompoms.
Speaking on the occasion, eminent poet and journalist Pt. Suresh Neerav said, “First Gandhi made cleanliness a mass movement. Now PM Modi has done the same and taking forward Bapu’s dream. But in between, Dr Pathak is the man who has consistently worked on sanitation and cleanliness for the people of the nation and beyond through his inventions and technologies. He is like the bridge that connects PM Narendra Modi to Mahatma Gandhi on this cleanliness drive.”
Also present in the gathering was Abdul Lateef Khan, who had come all the way from Jammu and Kashmir to grace the occasion. Terming Dr Pathak as the second-Gandhi, he said, “It is due to Dr Pathak’s efforts that the world is witnessing a beautiful India. PM Modi and Dr Pathak are two true soldiers of cleanliness revolution. They have taken up the initiative of restoring India as the Golden Bird it once was, where there will be no differences and everbody will be equal.”
Former scavengers Usha Sharma (who was originally Chaumar) and Pooja Sharma, and widows of Vrindavan also extended their best wishes to the PM on his birthday. Usha and Pooja narrated the story of how from the dark days of manual scavenging to living a life of dignity, they have come a long way with the help and support of Dr Pathak who converted them from ‘untouchables’ to Brahmins and brought them to the mainstream of the society.
The guests were welcomed in traditional Sulabh style with garlands, bouquets, scarves and mementos. An exhibition displaying the journey of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also organised by Sulabh on the occasion which was visited by the eminent guests, who also scribbled their wishes and messages on the message-board there. The celebration was followed by a cultural programme in which children enthusiastically showcased their talents.
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