Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], November 22 (ANI/NewsVoir): Public health and hygiene has seen unprecedented improvement with concerted push from the government in recent years.
With over 11 cr. toilets built since 2014 and 100 million rural households having access to tap water, our sanitation situation has improved drastically.
Yet there are many milestones to cover, and it is imperative that all stakeholders join hands to ensure every citizen in India has access to sanitation and safe drinking water, leaders and celebrities said at the 3rd Edition of Harpic-News18 Mission Swachhta aur Paani telethon on World Toilet Day.
Mission Swachhta aur Paani', a Sanitation for All campaign by News18 & Harpic is a movement that upholds the cause of inclusive sanitation where everyone has access to clean toilets. It advocates equality for all genders, abilities, castes and classes and strongly believes that clean toilets are a shared responsibility. This is a pledge to keep India Samagra Swachh, to protect communities from diseases, fight for sustainable sanitation and access to safe toilets. The campaign also declared a call to citizens from across the country to share their thoughts on what could be a 5-point behavioral change mandate for the nation.
President of India Droupadi Murmu in a message complimenting Network18 for this campaign said, "It is heartening to know that Network18, along with Reckitt, has been championing a nationwide campaign for the last four years to save water and improve sanitation. May it resonate in every household and may its message be heard by every citizen." She also said that water is the bedrock of sanitation, and "a measure of a nation's progress and health".
Campaign Ambassador Akshay Kumar presented to Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat a "five-point mandate" to drive the flagship initiative aimed at behavioural change in India for better sanitation. These include: Access to clean toilets; safe and clean toilets as collective responsibility; dignity and respect for everyone in sanitation facilities; recognizing sanitation as new health; leaving no one behind.
Akshay also highlighted role of children in this Mission. "Toilet etiquette classes should be mandatory in schools across the nation. Students should learn about topics like sanitation, hygiene and water conversation," Akshay Kumar added.
"The most critical and important thing this government has done is the Swachh Bharat Mission,'' said Amitabh Kant, India G20 Sherpa and former NITI Aayog CEO.
Sanitation impacts a vast range of areas, Kant said, adding that it will have a huge impact on health and nutrition in India. "It's important to understand that it will have a huge impact on the health, nutrition and livelihood because in India we have a virtual cycle of malnutrition that will get hugely uplifted," he added.
NITI Aayog CEO, Parameswaran Iyer, spoke about the broadening scope of the sanitation and cleanliness campaign in the country. Elaborating on the work done by the government in the first phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), and the areas of focus in the second phase of SBM, he said, "The work on sanitation never stops, and I must say tremendous accomplishments have been made so far. PM Modi has played a key role in making the sanitation drive a success."
Spiritual leaders Sadhguru and Swami Chidanand Saraswati; actors Parineeti Chopra, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Riteish Deshmukh; Sulabh International Founder Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak among others joined the event that saw solid resolve among people to drive public opinion on this key social issue. MD of Sesame Street Sonali Khan also joined.
The sustained campaign by Network18 and Harpic launched in 2019 has achieved considerable success by bringing to fore key water and sanitation issues.
Ravi Bhatnagar, Director - External Affairs and Partnerships, Reckitt - South Asia said, "Since its inception, Harpic and News18's Mission Swachhta aur Paani has been working on inclusive sanitation in India, and the importance of water for hygiene and sanitation. We get a lot of strength from our partners across to bring about a change on-ground. Through our various interventions, we aim to reach over 20 million Indians with information and tools that can help drive behaviour change and generate awareness on the importance of proper sanitation in one's overall health for a healthier India. We're sure that in times to come, behaviour is going to change, in the most difficult terrains also. Through this initiative, today we are taking forward the main theme of World Toilet Day 2022, that is, making the invisible, visible."
Saurabh Jain, Regional Marketing Director, South Asia - Hygiene, Reckitt, commented, "As a global leader in the toilet care category, Harpic reaches over 100mn households across India. Being a part of important global conversations on sanitation and driving impact on-ground is not an obligation, rather a privilege for us. We believe there is a need for everyone to do their bit in maintaining clean and hygienic toilets. Harpic is consistently working towards providing access to safe toilets by making quality hygiene and wellness products accessible to everyone. Driving sustained behaviour change is imperative to drive impact and thus, with Harpic News18 Mission Swachhta aur Paani our efforts and interventions are aligned with the philosophy of leaving no one behind. We hope to continue creating a difference at grass root levels with each passing year and also urge citizens to understand their individual responsibility and join us in this mission to create a healthier nation - Milkar Lein Ye Zimmedari."
Lack of adequate access to water is a key barrier for several homes in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene of their toilets. Harpic-News18 Mission Swachhta aur Paani has made consistent efforts to draw people's attention towards this critical issue. The Paani Anthem launched in 2020 showcased children as protagonists to successfully drive the message of Swachhta.
With the support of the Government of India, Harpic also launched India's first-ever 'Sanitation for All Pledge and Preamble: Clean Water, Sustainable Sanitation' at the Mission Paani Sanitation Forum in 2021. Additionally, with the launch of World Toilet Colleges across India, Harpic is working towards improving the socio-economic standard of sanitation workers by putting in a robust ecosystem, equipped with the right machinery and formal training that allows better employment opportunities for the community.
The digital stream of the Telethon can be accessed at www.news18.com/missionswachhtapaani.
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