Under Dettol Banega Swach India (BSI), The World Toilet Organization, The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Pehel-The Initiative of Dainik Jagran joined forces today to celebrate United Nations World Toilet Day with the launch of India’s World Toilet College and more.

According to the United Nations, “The aim of World Toilet Day is to raise awareness about the people in the world who don’t have access to a toilet, despite the fact that it is a human right to have clean water and sanitation.” Worldwide, some 2.4 billion people—or close to one-third of the global population—doesn’t have access to improved sanitation, with an estimated 1 billion people forced to relieve themselves in the open. The problem leads to wide-spread disease and death, particularly in India, where the majority of the global problem exists.

Said Global Interfaith WASH Alliance Co-Founder/Co-Chair, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, “From here on in, sanitation must become our meditation, for it is a medication that can save and protect the lives of countless children. Let us not rest, as our duty to God and Nation, until Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modiji’s great vision for a Swachh Bharat is realized in every home, on every street and in every city, village and town.”

Today’s World Toilet Day celebratory event was launched with a symbolic “Urgent Run for Toilets,” which was the centerpiece of a global event that saw awareness-raising runs and marathons in locations worldwide. The inaugural ceremony was blessed by Pujya Swamiji and joined by Shri Bibek Debroy, noted economist and member of the Niti Ayog, Shri Ravi Bhatnagar, Manager External Affairs, RB, Shri Sanjay Gupta, Editor & CEO of Jagran Prakashan Limited, Shri SM Sharma,Chairman Jagran Pehel The Initiative, Mr. Jack Sim, Founder-President of World Toilet Organization, Prof Kishore Munshi, IIT Mumbai, Shri Radheshyam Gomla.

Afterwards, dignitaries assembled for the official launch of the World Toilet College, which will serve to help educate the masses on subjects including the proper construction of toilets and the training of professional cleaners. In Delhi and Uttarakhand, the college is a joint initiative of the World Toilet Organization and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, with the support of RB under Banega Swatch India (BSI) initiative.

Dainik Jagran Editor-in-Chief Sanjay Gupta said, “The initiative aims at making India a clean nation.”

Said Mr. Nitish Kapoor, Regional Director – RB South Asia “More than 50% of the population in the country does not have access to basic sanitation infrastructure and this leads to numerous health issues. RB is proud to have partnered with World Toilet Organization and Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, to create the first World Toilet College in India. This is an initiative under our Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign and will contribute much needed skills to drive sustainable behaviour change.”

Said World Toilet Organization Founder, Jack Sim, “I am very happy that the World Toilet College is setting a firm and progressive presence in India. The wide array of knowledge to be shared through the College will help ensure the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission. In so doing, it will help bring stakeholders into alignment, so that they may act in unified concert.”

The World Toilet College will provide an array of classes, including Toilet Building 101, Professional Washroom Cleaning, Sanitation Policy Making, Toilet Project Implementation and more. Through its well-rounded course offerings, a broad swath of India: from NGOs to local administrations to professional toilet cleaners and beyond, will be provided with the education and know-how needed to ensure toilets are more widely accepted, built, used and properly maintained for a Swachh Bharat and healthier lives.

Said Global Interfaith WASH Alliance Secretary General, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, “The launch of the World Toilet College here in India sets an important precedent, which will place the sharing and acquisition of knowledge front and center as we work hand-in-hand towards realizing a Swachh Bharat.”

The launch of the World Toilet College in India was complimented by four inaugural educational sessions held during today’s World Toilet Day festivities. Subjects included discussions such as how to create demand for toilets and how to overcome some of India’s foremost sanitation challenges.

HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati shares more on the first of its kind college, “”It is being developed to impart knowledge relating to toilets. There are so many people working on the issue in the country. All of them need to be given a single platform. All the knowledge has to be brought together.”

“A toilet is being built for every 30 seconds. But how to design, build toilets, what should be its model, all these aspects need to be taught about and the same be passed on to others. We will do it through the college. We have built enough temples, now people need to be trained in constructing toilets,” Swami Chidanand Saraswati, president of Parmarth Niketan (rpt) president of Parmarth Niketan said.

He further said the developers aim to target young children “as they can be easily honed”, but added admissions will be open for all “whomsoever is interested in working on the issue”.

“We want people with interest in eradicating the problem of open defecation to join us. We are trying to see we do not charge fees to those who want to learn from here…The first facility at Rishikesh will have a capacity of training 1000 students to begin with, he said. The length of course to be undertaken will vary from three hours to three months, Pujya Swamiji added.

The event concluded with the words of dignitaries, who served to inspire all assembled to continue diligently forward for a Swachh Bharat through the propagation of toilets, knowledge, and improved sanitation.

Jack Sim added, “Urban thoughts cannot develop rural cities. The government needs to tap rural people’s intelligence in their way. They (rural people) are also very talented and can be productive provided their health stays intact and I believe toilets play a huge role in this scenario. The present government is focusing a lot on supply rather than demand. There is an immense need to look out for behavioural change and look out a way of approaching the entire issue of toilets rather being rational.”

Pujya Swamiji ended, “There is an urgent need for people to understand that sanitation and meditation go hand in hand. There is a need to get software, hardware and heartware together and work at grand level. Open defecation is devastation and an insult on our country’s women. It is high time to take steps towards eradicating this problem and I would recommend to begin this initiative from festivals like Kumbhamela.”

Watch Doordarshan’s Coverage of the Event:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LpCgF3Pp1Y