The first step to create a developed India is to create a clean India, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said. The Vice President Naidu remarked while speaking at India Today’s ‘Safaigiri’ awards on Monday. The Central government too observed the third anniversary of its Swachh Bharat Mission, which aims at making the country open defecation free (ODF) by 2019.
“The first step to create a developed India is to create a clean, hygienic and, therefore, a healthy India. A wealthy India can’t be made without a healthy India,” Naidu said.
The vice-president said that the cleanliness campaign was conceptualised as a people’s movement to effect a change in mindset.
“It is easy to build a road, bridge or an airport but trying to change human behaviour is complex. I am happy that because of collective efforts by all there is a change of mindset,” Naidu added.
VP Naidu also laid emphasis on the role played by women who have demanded toilets in their homes and villages.
“Chhattisgarh’s 105-year-old Kunwar Bai has sold her boats and contributed for construction of toilets. A teenager in Karnataka went on fast demanding that everyone in the neighbourhood should have a toilet. Dr Manjula, former CEO of Bangalore Rural, achieved ODF in 48 gram panchayats in six months. A 16-year-old from north Karnataka recently went on a hunger strike to put pressure on her mother to build a toilet,” Naidu enumerated.
While listing the achievements of the government’s cleanliness campaign, Naidu said there was still “a long way to go” and a “business as usual approach” would not deliver results.
He also proposed that the government might have to think of punitive measures to ensure “swacchta”. “We have to think of going for punitive action also. It is crucial that swacchta becomes everyone’s business,” the vice-president said in his address.
Referring to the note-ban, Naidu said that “safaigiri” is “cleaning the dirt everywhere — tan se, man se, dhan se”.
Naidu later also gave away awards at the event.
Babu Bai of Toomdar village, Rajasthan, who sold her jewellery to build a toilet for herself and her daughter-in-law won an award.
Among others who were recognised was Bangladesh for Best Asian Government Initiative in public sanitation, hygiene and cleanliness. Its High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali received the award.
(With inputs from PTI)