International Sanitation Convention organised in New Delhi to mark the start of 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Gandhiji
The Father of the Nation ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ deeply believed that cleanliness is next to Godliness and also the path towards national progress for the greater good of the people of India.
He said we can no more gain God’s blessing with an unclean body than with an unclean mind. A clean body cannot reside in an unclean city. The greater tribute that we can give Bapu is to follow in his footsteps and his mantra of cleanliness.
To mark the beginning of 150th birth anniversary celebration of Mahatma Gandhi which also coincides with the fourth anniversary of the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention, inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind, organised in Delhi by the Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation.
MGISC has been a 4-day international conference that has brought together 53 Sanitation Ministers and more than 200 delegates from around 68 countries with their leaders in WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) from around the world. In the last four years, rural sanitation coverage has made groundbreaking progress from 39 per cent in October 2014 to over 90 per cent in September 2018 with behavioural change being the key focus of implementation.
The sustainable development goals have been envisioned as a bold universal agreement to end poverty in all its dimensions and create an equal, just and secure work for the people, for our planet and for the prosperity of the world by 2030.
Swachh Bharat is a revolution
Inaugurating the 4-day Convention, President Kovind said Swachh Bharat has become a mass movement and a revolution is playing out in real time.
“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, it represents the spirit of our independence movement,” he said. Talking about the progress of the mission, Kovind said the relentless and strenuous labours of the past four years have led India to significant milestones.
“India is striving to eliminate open defecation in its entirety by October 2, 2019. This is the best 150th birthday gift we can give to Gandhiji,” he said.
He, however, feels achieving universal access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene by 2030 is a major challenge in many parts of the world. Drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are central to sustainable development goal, he said.
When the mission will be completed, it will provide every Indian – one-sixth of humanity – an opportunity for a dramatic leap, he said, adding the focused sanitation effort and the broader sustainable development goals represent a once-in-many-generations moment. “We are the chosen generation,” he said.
From global problem to global Solution
Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Representative applauded the progress of Swachh Bharat Mission and said, “Swachh Bharat, one of the biggest initiative that has been undertaken anywhere in the world for a social change, was always more than a scheme. It was a movement for behavioural change and as we know behavioural change is the most difficult thing to tackle. It demonstrates an exemplary partnership between government, civil society, NGO and co-partners and citizens at large. This conversion of political leadership and action has led to about 400 million persons being provided toilet access and sanitation just over the last four years. This mission serves as an important model with a lesson for the rest of the world.
In four years India has managed to shift from being part of the global problem to be an important part of the global solution. This is an inspiring achievement given the shortness of time.”
Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation said in his keynote, “The convention is aptly named after the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, who famously said back in colonial India that sanitation was more important than political independence. Gandhiji’s vision of an open defecation free India is now being translated into reality under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Swachh Bharat Mission is not only the infrastructural process. It is something more, it involves dynamic shift because it involves behavioural change and that is where the good news is staring us in the face. I cannot recall any political leader in India other than our PM Modi after Mahatma Gandhi who took an initiative on the issue of sanitation and took it to the global level,” said Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister of State with Independent Charge in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
Cabinet Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, Uma Bharti said during the inaugural address, “The main message from the convention we want to give is that Sanitation matters. It matters for poverty reduction and sustainable development. It matters for economic growth and combating environmental degradation. We urgently need long-term solution to the world’s sanitation need and this can only be achieved through working together.”
A book titled ‘Champaran ka Swachhagraha’ documenting the Champaran campaign released on the occasion. Uma Bharti presented the first copy of this book to the President of India.
A technical session was organised on Day 1 of the convention, i.e. 29th September, 2018, on the subject “TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATIONS IN SANITATION”. In this session, the finalists of the competition presented their innovations to an esteemed jury of innovators and sanitation experts.
Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, founder, Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement was amongst the esteemed jury along with RA Mashelkar, Chairman High Level Technical Committee, MDWS, India, Robert Chambers, Professor, IDS, University of Sussex, United Kingdom, Sue Coates, Deputy Executive Director, WSSCC and Peter Harvey, Chief Water, Sanitation and Education Centre, UNICEF.
On the second day of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention, 116 foreign delegates including sanitation ministers visited select sites related to the life and
work of Mahatma Gandhi on the “Gandhi Trail”.
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