Modi to hard sell Swachh Bharat mission as global model

The Government will on Tuesday start celebrating Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary

The Government will on Tuesday start celebrating Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary with Prime Minister Narendra Modi hard-selling the “success story” of his pet Swachh Bharat mission as a global model.

Modi will be joined by Antonio Gutteres, Secretary General of the United Nations, when he addresses the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Centre in New Delhi. With ministers and delegates from 68 nations in the audience, Modi is likely to speak about his government's Swachh Bharat mission and its contribution to India's pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations had set in 2015.

President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the convention on Saturday, although the high-profile main event is scheduled for Tuesday, coinciding with the launch of  150th birth anniversary celebrations of the Father of the Nation as well as the fourth anniversary of the Swachh Bharat mission.

After the UN Environment Programme recently bestowed on Prime Minister and French President Emmanuel Macron the “Champions of Earth” award for launching the International Solar Alliance, the BJP-led government in New Delhi is now keen to use the conclave to present to the world Modi's Swachh Bharat mission as a model for other nations to follow.

Kovind on Saturday suggested that the foreign nations trying to meet “the problem of insufficient sanitation” might choose to adopt five themes based on the experience of India – ensuring leadership of people in planning, implementation and management of sanitation programmes, using smart and affordable technologies for effective and efficient service delivery, eliminating all forms of inequalities in service delivery, creating innovative financing instruments to fund and sustain the sanitation movement and developing capacities within the government to plan, implement and monitor sanitation programmes.

“We could call this the Five-fold Path to Sanitation,” said the President.

First-time toilets

Kovind noted that the national sanitation coverage was at 39% when the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched in 2014. It had now gone up to 95%. Besides, he added, 503 of India’s 699 districts, 3,622 of 4,041 urban local bodies and 4,87,445 villages had been declared open-defecation free. “About 85 million rural households and six million urban households have begun to use toilets for the first time. Swachh Bharat has helped them shed the troubling practice of open defecation,” said Kovind.

He said Mahatma Gandhi was an early proponent of the universal right to sanitation. “He (Mahatma Gandhi) saw it as intrinsic to the quest for human freedom and dignity for all those who live on our shared planet,” said Kovind.

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Modi to hard sell Swachh Bharat mission as global model

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