The Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind came to the Kumbh Mela in Prayag Raj to our Global Interfaith WASH Alliance eco-friendly camp where he inaugurated GIWA’s Gandhian Resurgence Summit, a celebration in honor of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
At this time of the Swachh Kumbh and Swachh Bharat programs, the necessity for a resurgence in Gandhian thought is especially important as Gandhiji had emphasised on the crucial importance of sanitation and hygiene.
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, spoke emphatically of the importance of Gandhian thought and principles for today’s world. “Gandhiji said, ‘Sanitation is more important than independence.’ Today is a historic day in which for the first time since Hon’ble Shri Rajendra Prasad, our President after Independence, a President of India is coming to the Kumbh Mela. From the banks of the Sangam today is a message of unity, of peace, of cleanliness, environmental protection and upliftment for all.”
Seated on the dais were: Honourable Governor of Uttar Pradesh Shri Ram Naikji, the Honourable Shri Yogi Adityanathji Chief Minister Uttar Pradesh, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Acharya M.M. Swami Avdheshanand Giriji Maharaj, Mahant Narendra Giriji Maharaj, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary-General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Dr. Shankar Sanyal, President, Harijan Sevak Sangh.
Said Honourable President Ram Nath Kovind: I feel so honored that after the first president of India, Shri Rajendra Prasadji, I have the opportunity to come to the Kumbh Mela. The Kumbh is the largest gathering of humanity in the world! The Kumbh gives the vision and hope for a world of oneness. It is a magnet that attracts and pulls people from around the world. It is a magnet of faith attracting not only human pilgrims but also birds from Siberia come just at this special and auspicious time.
Patriotism was palpable as rousing speeches led the crowd towards collectively pledging for taking Mahatma Gandhi’s vision for a clean India into mission mode. The Swachh Bharat Mission, which was launched on Gandhi Jayanti 2014, completes this year, making sanitation the need of the day if our nation is to achieve its historic targets of toilets and sanitation for all.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mahant Shri Yogi Adityanathji spoke eloquently about the vision and work of the Green Kumbh Clean Kumbh. He shared that this year there is more water in the sangam than any year since Independence! Additionally, 1,22,500 ecofriendly toilets have been built and provided to the pilgrims. He shared that Gandhiji was committed to cleanliness and committed to people’s movements, so the ground level work of the Swachh Bharat Mission is really the greatest shraddhanjali that can be given to Gandhiji.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, highlighted the historic significance of the President’s visit. “He is a leader who models Gandhian principles of simplicity, integrity, nobility of thought AND action. Gandhiji said ‘without action we are not going anywhere’ and our Hon’ble President is a man of great action and great direction. His life and work are a sangam (confluence) of dedication to culture, nature and future.
Dr. Shankar Sanyalji thanked the Hon’ble President, Hon’ble Governor and Hon’ble Chief Minister for coming and thanked Pujya Swamiji for guiding and leading the event. He that there are more than 350 members of the Harijan Sevak Sangh from seventeen states of India who have come to be present on this auspicious day.
We would also like to thank RB, which produces Harpic and Dettol, Banega Swachh India, the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), UNICEF, and all our volunteers for their support in bringing this programme to fruition and for their support in GIWA’s efforts to bring clean water, sanitation, and healthy living to the people of India and to the world.