India Reclaims its Historic Swachh Heritage

India Reclaims its Historic Swachh Heritage, with Releases of New Study, at Hands of Hon’ble Jal Shakti Minister and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance’s Faith Leaders

DELHI- The Hon’ble Jal Shakti Minister, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, and Respected Jal Shakti Ministry Secretaries, Shri Parameswaran Iyer and Dr UP Singh joined Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, HH Chetsang Rinpoche Drikung Kyabgon, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati and other faith leaders, dignitaries as well as Gandhians to launch Swachhata Sanskriti Book at the Gandhi Ashram, Kingsway Camp, Delhi, during the ongoing celebrations of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi. The Book Launch was organised by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance in collaboration with Harijan Sevak Sangh, especially commemorated Pandit Deen Dayal Updhyaya’s Birth Anniversary on the 25th September during the ongoing Swachhta Hi Seva Campaign inspired by our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

Prepared by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and the University of Delhi the book study, “Swachhata Sanskriti,” revealed that unlike conventional thought, the history of India was largely uncontaminated by pollution and human waste from about 5,000 years ago until colonial times.

The venue of the event was at the sacred premises of the Gandhi Ashram in which Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi lived between their sojourn of 1930-40’s –the launch took place outdoors between the recently inaugurated Gandhian Library and Implementation Centre (recently inaugurated on the 24th September by the Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind) and the Mahatma Gandhi Yoga Centre, which had been inaugurated by the Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Venkaiah Naiduji in November 2017. Situated near the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Environmental Science Institute’s (Sabarmati Ashram) Toilet Café and Park the event was the perfect location of the live expression and experience of the Swachhta Sanskriti.

With a beautiful shower of fresh rains, the outdoor venue celebrated the beautiful confluence of the legacy of Mahatma Gandhiji with a clarion call for water preservation as Gandhian Constructive Workers, GIWA and HSS Members joined intently for the messages of inspiration and action came forth by the eminent dignitaries.

Shared Sadhvi Bhagawatiji opening the event, “It is so auspicious to be celebrating Pandit Deen Dayal Updhayaya’s Birth Anniversary at the Gandhi Ashram. At the core of Pandit Deen Dayal Updhayaya’s work was integral humanism, keeping humans and not wealth or material prosperity at the centre, the time has come to take his divine example from humans to all of humanity – as a collective whole. This is what GIWA is committed to improving WASH, rejuvenating our sacred rivers and environmental preservation as this is serving all of humanity. In this spirit, the launch of Swachhta Sanskriti illustrates our efforts to work with our Hon’ble Prime Minister to reclaim our historic swachh tradition and practices.”

Said Respected Secretary of Water Resources, Dr UP Singhji, “Given the immense activity and engagements I have today, I feel especially privileged to be here at this sacred space of Mahatma Gandhiji and to join our Hon’ble Minister and all of you in the launch of this book.”

Said Respected Secretary of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Parameswaran Iyer, “The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance under Pujya Swamiji’s leadership have made noteworthy and significant contributions towards the Swachh Bharat Mission. I am glad to launch this book that illustrates that Swachhta is an integral part of India’s history and core value system. It’s time we reconnect with these roots is the message we receive from today’s launch at the sacred space in which Mahatma Gandhiji worked for the independence of the colonial India.”

Blessing the gathering HH Drikung Kyabonji said, “I am so glad to be associated with GIWA for our work together to protect our planet, protect our water resources and end plastic pollution. From cleaning up the Himalayan region to protecting the sacred fresh water sources that originate from them in Ladakh, Rishikesh and Dehradun we are working to preserve and serve these regions through faith in action and inspire a new generation of young leaders of faith to see that serving all of creation is our primary Dhamma.”

Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan and Founder/Chair of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, “Our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji has lit the mashal (torch) of Swachh Bharat Mission but it’s upto us to take it forward. From making our first lap successfully with ending open defecation in India now we are working to end the use of single use plastic- this is not just his movement it’s all of ours as well. Gandhians and those practicing Gandhian Thought and Principles have an important role to play in taking these efforts forward. The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and the Harijan Sevak Sangh are committed to working together with the Jal Shakti Minister to make these efforts truly a people’s movement.”

Said Hon’ble Jal Shakti Minister, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, “Today I am especially glad to join you on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150 years, when the nation celebrates becoming 100% open defecation free, at the sacred space of Mahatma Gandhiji, in this august presence, admist Gandhians to launch a book on an issue that was especially dear to Bapu. I was recently at the Stockholm World Water Week and when the high-level representatives of many countries heard about the success of our Swachh Bharat Mission, they were inspired and motivated that if India can do it they could as well. This is the hope that we have lit in the world to be the torchbearers of our nation’s rich history and culture in which cleaniness was an integral and essential.”

Giving the vote of thanks Swamini Adityananda Saraswati, a Director of Programmes, Policy and Partnerships, the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and the key writer of the study, “drill down into layer after layer of India’s history, and one will find that over the millennia, sanitation has been India’s birth right. From the great baths and flush toilets of the Indus Valley Civilizations to the fines imposed by Chanakya for open defecation, to the public toilets of the Gupta Period and beyond. India knew how to manage its sanitation, India brilliantly also knew how to manage its waters. Truly, India’s Sanskriti is Swachh.”

Contributing to making this event a great success were Shri Sankar Kumar Sanyalji, President of Harijan Sevak Sangh, Sushri Ganga Nandini, Director of Communications and Programme Implementation, GIWA, Dr Rachna Bimal, Professor, Delhi University and many others.

The event concluded with a beautiful Water Blessing Ceremony and pledge to work together to end the use of plastic and conserve our sacred water resources. The Hon’ble Minister and Secretaries received a sacred Rudraksha Sapling from the revered interfaith leaders.

About GIWA

GIWA is the globe’s first organization to bring together the leaders of all faiths and people from across India and around the world to inspire a planet where everyone, everywhere can have access to sustainable and healthy water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

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