“Changing our Habits can Change India” says Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji
Harpic India- Banega Swachh India, World Toilet Organization, Jagran Pehel and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Parmarth Niketan join together to launch a World Toilet College in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
The #WorldToiletCollege initiative is designed to support and strengthen Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s clarion call from the Red Fort on the 15th August, 2016 when he gave the highest priority to Swachh Bharat Mission, India (Clean India). It is aimed at supporting these efforts to make India free from open defecation by October 2, 2019.
HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Muniji, President of Parmarth Niketan was the Chief Guest during the inaugural ceremony and was joined by Secretary General, GIWA, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Founder of World Toilet Organization Jack Sim, Banega Swachh India, Mr. Narasimhan Eswar, Senior Vice President, South Asia-RB Home Hygiene and Ravi Bhatnagar, Head, External Affairs & Partnerships, RB India and a few other eminent dignitaries came together to light the lamp.
During the event, it was shared that India’s first World Toilet College was established at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh two years ago. Since then more than 5,000 uneducated and under educated women, engineers from the states of Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Bihar and others, many social organizations and school students have been trained. Trainings are offered to build and maintain toilets, keep the toilets clean, repair old and dilapidated toilets, repair leaks, CLTS, to be sanitation leaders and for many other related services. Trained women are then employed in building much needed toilets in their communities and local schools, training is given by international and nationally renowned events.
Pujya Swamiji delivered a powerful speech saying, “Temples change the way we think but toilets change our health, which is critical to direct the way we think. I believe that when Indians begin to change their habits, India will automatically change. This is the training that the World Toilet COllege will aim to provide. Sanitation is the very foundation upon which one builds a healthy life. Unfortunately, it is also one of the biggest struggles in our country. Furthermore, it is quite sad to see the condition of the sanitation worker community and the lives they live. Launch of such World Toilet Colleges will set an important example of institutions that will help provide the right knowledge sharing platform leading to the upliftment of one of the most important sections of the society.”
Sadhvi Bhagawatiji added, ““The launch of the World Toilet College here in Maharashtra 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 Maharasthra, Swachh Bharat. Its really vital that we understand our important role and the impact of our choices and our habits on our environment. When we pollute our air, water and soil it doesn’t just impact our future its impacting us now. Through institutions like the World Toilet College we can train change makers to act and be the change we need in our world.”
On the occasion, Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organization said, “Cleanliness and sanitation are India’s pertinent issues and it requires a massive mind-shift to improve the condition. Hygiene and Cleanliness should be seen as a basic need. The average person uses a toilet 2,200 times per year, approximately six times daily leading to clogged sewerage systems. At various steps across the sanitation value chain, workers interact with faecal sludge in extremely unsafe ways with inadequate safety equipment and training. They are also socially and culturally ostracized. The World Toilet College aims to instill pride among these workers. We laud RB and Jagran Pehel on this project and will continue to support this endeavor in future.”
Speaking at the event, Narasimhan Eswar, Senior Vice President, South Asia-RB Home Hygiene said, “As a leader in the sanitation environment, we observed an emminent need to address the increasing hazards posed to sanitation workers due to unfavorable working conditions. With the establishment of World Toilet College in Aurangabad, Harpic aims to give a status of equality to the sanitation workers community. We hope to start a movement of change for improving their lives, with 5,000 sanitation workers graduating from the college over a period of two years, empowered with skills and a job. We are proud to see our Banega Swachh India campaign create positive impact with community partnerships reaching out to a wider audience. We thank all our partners for their whole-hearted support in making this a reality.”
Recognizing the efforts of partnering organizations, Seema Dhandare, Govt. of Maharashtra said, “There has been a massive push for improved sanitation in urban and rural India, and progress has been substantial with several hundred million Indians now having access to toilets. While the public eye has been on big campaigns like the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, the inner workings of sanitation systems and the state of sanitation workers in these systems have not been addressed properly. We congratulate RB, World Toilet Organization and Jagran Pehel for creating a curriculum which will not only uplift the lives of sanitation workers but will also give them better job opportunities.”
Pujya Swamiji further added, “the National River Ganga is a floating mandir (temple)- the most divine flow of nectar then how can we pollute the river with our solid and liquid waste. Its time that we utilise the latent energy in the piles and volumes of waste in our society and channelise it towards nourishing the very Earth it has come from. Nothing in the universe is really waste we just may not have found a way to utilise it properly. This is the real independence that we need- freedom from open defecation and pollution.”
Pujya Swamiji also lauded the youthful and energetic leadership of Hon’ble MP Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis in making Swachh Maharashtra a priority for the state and the nation.
Pujya Swamiji also especially honoured the Media Social Responsibility of Dainik Jagran, Jagran Pehel and urged the common citizen to join the efforts and to raise awareness and inspire action in their communities.
Pujya Swamiji led a beautiful pledge ceremony at the end of the conference emphasising all organisations collective pledge to make India open defecation and pollution free. A special moment of silence was also observed to pay tribute to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji. During the event Swami Adityananda Saraswati, Director of Programme, Projects and Policy Development, Mr. SN (Goodday) Sharma and Mayor of Aurangabad and many other eminent dignitaries were also present.