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Community support grows for PM Modi’s Clean India Campaign
I am truly honoured to be one of the fifteen Australian ambassadors for the ambitious Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign), a national movement by the Government of India. This campaign includes the cleaning of streets, roads and infrastructure in 4,041 statutory cities and towns in India, and by 2019 eliminating open defecation by constructing toilets for households and communities.
My fellow ambassadors as announced by the India Australia Exchange Forum (IAEF), include Rashi Kapoor, Shagoon Bhasin, Tripti Gupta, Mandy Bose, Dheepa Awtani, Tanvi Mor, Aviti Sharma, Priya Bedi, Anita Rai, Rashi Budhiraja, Rohini Verma, Priyanka Arora, Priyanka Sharma, Divya Bakshi, and senior Australian journalist Stephen Manallack – all of whom are recognised faces in Melbourne’s Indian community and are doing a fantastic job of raising awareness of this very noble social cause.
The IAEF is a not-for-profit organisation formed to facilitate bilateral relations, intellectual property transfer, education, trade, business and cultural exchange between Australia and the Indian subcontinent. It works with Indo-Australian businesses, community organisations, state and federal governments to further enrich government-to-government and business-to-business engagements.
You may wonder why ambassadors have been chosen in Melbourne when the campaign is based in India and how we will we contribute to this campaign sitting in a different continent.
The answer is simple, we can all support this campaign, irrespective of our location. It can be done in two ways: firstly, by discussing and raising awareness about the much needed sanitation facilities in India’s rural areas; and secondly, by making a financial and voluntary contribution to support the implementation of this campaign on the ground.
Studies show that one in every ten deaths in India is linked to poor sanitation, and low-income households bear the maximum brunt of poor sanitation. Nearly 120 million toilets are required to be built in the country by 2019 to realise the vision of a Clean India.
Last December the World Bank approved $1.5 billion to support the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but a lot more is needed to bring a real visible change on the ground.
To support this campaign, IAEF has pledged to build 100 toilets in India over the next three years. As a first project, IAEF has chosen the village of Jaunti, in the northern state of Haryana, to support the constructions costs of up to three toilets. The ground work of securing the land, necessary permits and consultation with the village community is currently underway. The toilets will be built by Sulabh International after the necessary funds are raised.
It’s not just the cost per single toilet seat that has to be taken into consideration. There are other associated costs such as roofing, flooring, pipelines, plumbing and much more. Not every village has sewer lines, so there can be added costs of building a septic tank. In most instances, a complete infrastructure has to be established before a toilet can be built.
All the ambassadors are working collectively to raise awareness of this project, but we need your support to turn this project into reality.
When people work together, they have huge power to bring change – in their neighbourhoods, cities, and ultimately bring change to their country for the better.
It’s my humble request to you to join this very worthy cause and make a meaningful contribution to a country we all belong to and we all very dearly love.
A charity fundraising dinner is being hosted on 12 February at Spirit of India restaurant in Preston for IAEF’s Clean India Mission.