India Today Aaj Tak’s Annual SafaiGiri Awards was conferred to Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Founder/Chair, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary General, GIWA, for the Best Sanitation Institution for the work Global Interfaith WASH Alliance has done to bring faith into action for water, sanitation and hygiene. It particularly recognized GIWA’s World Toilet College to train, educate and build capacity for thousands of sanitation professionals. The World Toilet College is a joint partnership with Reckitt Benckiser and Banega Swasth India- Dettol India.
The event also consisted of a special Beat Water Pollution Panel, in which Pujya Swamiji explained, “There can be grand plans, and there can be ground plans. But we need to come together to bridge the gap and do the work. GIWA has seen the power of faith to mobilise faith leaders and faith communities, catalyzing the change we wish to see in the world. We have recognised that we might not be able to worship in the same way but we can work towards a shared humanity, one that not only worships the Creator but protects and preserves all of creation.”
Sadhvi Bhagawatiji stated that “If I ask everyone in this room to raise their hand if they want to protect and preserve water, naturally everybody is going to raise their hands. We understand water is life. But, in the over twenty years I have been here in India, we have gone from being vegetarian to being non-vegetarian. The amount of water that goes into the production of one meal of beef is the same amount of water you use in bathing for six months. But, is anyone actually prepared to refrain from bathing for six months? Are we really ready to make the decisions that need to be made to give-up the things that we’ve chosen to now bring into our lives to actually save that water?”
The event concluded with the Hon’ble President of India sharing his message to the nation on the occasion of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi. Celebrity Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was awarded the Most Effective Sanitation Ambassador Award. The power packed event included a special address by the Hon’ble Urban Development Minister, Shri Hardeep Singh Puriji, blessings by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudevji of the Isha Foundation and had celebrity performances and call to action by Badshah, Kailash Kher and many other eminent luminaries, individuals and institutions who have provided noteable contributions to create a Swachh and Sundar (Clean and Beautiful) India.