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The Swacch Bharat (Clean India) campaign was launched by the Modi government on Gandhi's birth anniversary on October 2, 2014. Pixabay

The ‘Swachh Bharat Mission of the Modi government is an “example-setting programme for the world” and a “game-changer” as it altered the way Indian society behaved towards cleanliness, a top official of the UNICEF said.

In an interview to IANS, UNICEF India’s Sanitation (WASH) chief Nicolas Osbert showered praise on the programme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his maiden Independence Day address in 2014 from the ramparts of Red Fort.

The Swacch Bharat (Clean India) campaign was launched by the Modi government on Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2, 2014. The components of the government’s flagship scheme include the construction of household toilets, community and public toilets and solid waste management.

“It caught us all by surprise, us, the international crowd, the development crowd. Look at India, a very powerful country, going for space conquest, having such powerful industries, such strong research on the robotics and on IT and as much as India was dreaming of all of these, I think, in August 2014, saying that we are going to clean this mess, so we have a strong base for our development, was a good move,” Osbter said.

The ‘Swachh Bharat Mission of the Modi government is an “example-setting programme for the world” and a “game-changer” as it altered the way Indian society behaved. Flickr

“Five years ago, I was told that talking about open defection was a taboo here, even with the administration and the people but after Swachh bharat, even the Chief Ministers, District Magistrates propagate open defecation free India,” he added.

He highlighted the positive global impact that success of Swachh Bharat Mission brought with itself.

“A lot of countries from the world now come to India to learn about Swachh Bharat Mission. Just a year ago, 55 ministers from across the globe visited India to measure impact of Swachh Bharat and they went back to their countries very much inspired,” Osbert said.

According to Osbert, the primary goal behind the Swachh Bharat Mission has been met but the project needs to continue and with bigger goals this time so that the aim to get a clean India is achieved.

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“The positive impact of the movement is clear on the field and is certainly measurable,” he said.

“Five years of time, considering the size and diversity of the nation, the success of Swachh Bharat Mission is a world record. This is certainly a world record,” Osbert emphasised.

“But I must say the battle is won, as we complete five years of Swachh Bharat Mission. With that being said, I would add that India needs to continue the mission ahead and also work on other important aspects, like hand washing with soap, maintaining the toilets,” Osbert said.

Highlighting the prime reason for mission’s success, Osbert compared Swachh Bharat Mission with various sanitation-promoting initiatives that were run previously in India.

In an interview to IANS, UNICEF India’s Sanitation (WASH) chief Nicolas Osbert showered praise on the programme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his maiden Independence Day address in 2014. Flickr

“Swachh Bharat is not the first initiative that India has taken to improve sanitation in India, but the biggest reason makes it stand apart from others was the focus on society’s behaviour,” he said.

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“Other initiatives had to offer from techniques to infrastructure but the Swachh Bharat stood apart from them as it included element of behaviour change. The government made sure that techniques and infrastructure were used by every man, which was possible by involving everyone in the process,” Osbter said. (IANS)


Photo by Picryl

Taliban is being supported by other countries, who are asking the United Nations to work towards its economy and people.

At least 10 regional powers have joined the new Taliban rulers in Afghanistan in their call to the United Nations to help the country bail itself from the feared economic collapse and a humanitarian catastrophe.

At a regional-level meeting in Moscow, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan sided with the Taliban delegation and called on the UN to convene a United Nations donor conference at the earliest to help rebuild the ear-torn Afghanistan.

"It should take place with the understanding that the main burden should be borne by the forces whose military contingents have been present in Afghanistan over the past 20 years," said a joint statement of the Moscow conference.

Voices of concern and criticism were also raised against the United States, which opted not to attend the talks citing 'technical reasons'. The US was criticised for invading Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 and after 20 years, opted to an chaotic withdrawal, which created easy inroads for the Taliban to take control of the country.

It was also highlighted that international aid is the need of the hour for Afghanistan as any instability in the country would have a spillover effect on the regional countries and could threaten regional stability.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has brought with it looming fears and memories of the '90s, when practices like public stoning, hardline setup and marginalisation of women were normal.

However, the Taliban, under the new government setup, have assured that rights of women will be guaranteed.

"Afghanistan will never allow its soil to be used as a base for anyone to threaten the security of another country," said Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

"Isolating Afghanistan is in no one's interest. The meeting is very important for the stability of the entire region," said Deputy Prime Minister in the Taliban setup, Abdul Salam Hanafi.

The regional powers, including Russia, have maintained that the Taliban are a new reality, calling on them to work towards the formation of an inclusive government with representation from all ethnic groups and political figures.

While the regional powers recognised the need for immediate aid and help for Afghanistan, they have declined to give official recognition to the Taliban government.

"Kremlin recognises Taliban's efforts to try and stabilise the situation in Afghanistan. A new administration is in power now. We note their efforts to stabilise the military and political situation and set up work of the state apparatus," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The Moscow conference holds great importance, as it is the most significant international meeting since the Taliban takeover.

However, the Taliban have been given a clear direction to first meet and fulfil the promises they made when they assumed power, which includes rights to women and an ethnically inclusive government. (IANS/JB)

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