Prime Minister's Office

English rendering of PM’s address at the concluding session of Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi

Posted On: 02 OCT 2018 8:50PM by PIB Delhi

His Excellency, Secretary General of United Nations AntónioGuterres, the honorable ministers of different countries from all over the world who are present here to support me in my pledge of cleanliness, my colleagues in the council of ministers Sushma Ji, Uma Bharti Ji, HardeepPuriJi, Ramesh Ji and distinguished guests from all over the world,  brothers and sisters,

I wholeheartedly welcome all of you in India, in this land of venerable Bapu. I greet all of you on behalf of 1.25 billion Indians. I am extremely fortunate to be amongst all of you, amongst the world leaders, amongst the top personalities of the world in the field of sanitation and sustainable development because of your commitment towards for the important issue of cleanliness, and also for presenting it before the mankind in a collective manner and for inspiring them. 

I am extremely grateful to you people for your participation in Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention and sharing the experiences of your countries and in a way also for enriching this summit with your experiences, your ideas and your vision.

Today, when the world is passing through a challenging phase then coming together of so many countries on such an important issue related concerning mankind and deliberating over the issue in itself is an unprecedented event.

I believe that today’s programme, this opportunity is going to be a milestone in the direction of global sanitation, it’s going to be milestonein the programmes related to welfare of mankind because of the time spared by you people and your participation.


Today, we have been ushering into 150thyear of birth of Mahatma Gandhi and also taking steps to celebrate his 150th birth anniversary in a comprehensive manner throughout the world. I respectfully offer my tribute to venerable Bapu on behalf of everyone. And I see that venerable Bapu’s dream was a solemn pledge for cleanliness. And today when I got the opportunity to honor different people associated with thecleanliness then in a way we also got the opportunity to pay our respect by doing the job in addition to paying our homage.

All of you have also spent a day at Bapu’sashram in Sabarmati, the place at the bank of river Sabarmati from where venerable Bapu had prepared the country for freedom struggle. You people have observed the simplicity and the life of that place from close quarters. I am confident that the ideas of Bapu would have certainly become an opportunity to provide a new energy, new spirit and new inspiration to the people associated with the cleanliness mission. And it is also worthwhile that we have also gathered here on the occasion of completion of Mahatma Gandhi International Convention today itself.

I also got the opportunity to honor and reward some Swachchagrahis (cleanliness volunteers) here just a while ago. I congratulate all the award winners; I especially bow down to the venerable mother because in a way she has actively taken upon herself the responsibility of the campaign since the time of the start of this mission. A lot of such people have converted this cleanliness mission into a people’s movement and into an extremely powerful force by getting inspired from such great souls, from such people, from the lives of such stalwarts and sages.


When Gandhi Ji had been leading the freedom movement then once he had remarked that if someone asks him about the cleanliness and independence then he would say that he gave priority to cleanliness over independence. Gandhi Ji who spent his entire life for freedom struggle, even he had pledged to give priority to cleanliness over independence.

In 1945, he had reduced his thoughts into writing, he penned them down and he had presented them in the published form of a constructive programme. The essential things that I have discussed, they also included the important aspect of rural cleanliness mentioned in that document of Mahatma Gandhi.

The issue is that why Gandhi Ji consistently laid so much emphasis on cleanliness? Was it just because lack of cleanliness leads to diseases? My conscience says this was not the reason. It was not such a narrow objective.


If you look at it carefully, if you think over it then you would realise that if you do not clean or remove filth then that lack of cleanliness becomes a reason for us to develop a tendency of accepting the circumstances, we tend to develop those habits. If something is unclean, if a place is not clean and if the person present there does not change the situation, if it does not clean it then gradually he starts to accept that filthiness and after sometime he develops this kind of state, this kind of mentality that he does not look dirtiness as dirtiness. So in a way that dirtiness grips the spirit of that person, it grips his thought process, it makes him stagnant.

Now you think about just opposite situation when the person does not accept the dirtiness, lack of cleanliness and he makes an effort to clean it then his spirit also acquires a momentum and he develops a tendency of not accepting the situation as it is.

When venerable Bapu turned cleanliness into the people’s movement then his thinking behind that thing was to change the mentality of that person. To take the people from the state of stagnation towards the state ofconsciousness; and this much was his effort to induce this spirit to end the stagnation and bring consciousness in its place. And when this consciousness was awakened in us Indians then we have seen the impact like freedom movement and the country achieved independence.

Today, I accept this thing before you people, before the world that if we the people of India and several other people like me had not become familiar with the ideas of venerable Bapu, had we not made an attempt to understand his philosophy, had we not assessed his thoughts by giving it to the world; had we not understood them then perhaps this programme would not have become a priority for any government.

Today, this has become a priority, and I also felt like to express it from the Red Fort on the 15th of August because the ideals and ideas of Gandhi Ji have left an impression on me. And precisely that is the reason that it has been giving inspirations to millions and millions of people, associating them in this work without any expectation.

Today, I am proud that 1.25 billion Indians have made the Clean India Campaign the world’s biggest people’s movement by following the path shown by Gandhi Ji.

And it is the result of this commitment of the people that the coverage of rural cleanliness which was nearly 38 per cent before 2014 has become 94 per cent today.Becoming 94% from 38% in just four years, this is the biggest and successful example of associating with the responsibilities of common man.

Today, the number of open defecation free villages in India has crossed the figure of five lakh. Twenty five states of India have declared themselves open defecation free.


Four years ago 60% of the world population who defecated in open were living in India. Today, it has come down from 60 per cent to 20 per cent. So in a way this effort made by us has been putting a new enthusiasm, new zeal in the world map. And this is also important that not only toilets are constructed, it’s not just that the villages and cities are becoming ODF, but more than 90% toilets are being used in regular manner.

And the government is also constantly monitoring this thing that those villages and cities which have developed themselves free from open defecation should not fall back to their old habits. And for this thing, emphasis has constantly been laid on behavioural change and that is the most important thing. Investments are made for this purpose.


When we had started this work then this question was also raised that a lot of money will have to be spent on this programme. However, the government of India accorded more priority, placed more emphasis on the social change rather than allocation of money. And if the thinking changes then government is not needed to bring about the real change and people start doing it themselves.

Today, when I hear or see about this thing that how Clean India Campaign has changed the behavior of the people of India, how the incidence of diseases has come down in the villages of India, how the expenditure on disease has come down and when I received this kind of information then I very much feel satisfied. 

Several institutions related to United Nations have also studied this thing and they have presented several dimensions of this Clean India Mission through their studies.

Brothers and sisters,

Millions and millions of Indians have made this movement a symbol of hope and change. Today, Clean India Campaign is turning out to be the world’s biggest domino effect.


Today, I also take pride over the fact that because of Clean India Mission, India has once again awakened towards its old insistence on cleanliness. This culture of cleanliness is inherent in our old tradition, thinking and culture. Bad habits cropped up at a later stage. Maharishi Patanjali had said this thing while talking about AshtankYogwhen he was explaining the correct path for mankind for leading a life.

Shauch, Santosh, Tapah, Swadhyay, Ishwar, Pranidhan Ni Niyamah,

It means that cleanliness is at the first place among those fives rules for leading a rich life for the man: personal cleanliness, being content, hard work, self-study and the consciousness of god, this was also advocated by Patanjali. Consciousness about god and penance too is possible only after achieving cleanliness. This virtue about cleanliness has been a part of India’s life. 

I got the opportunity to visit an exhibition on the way with His Excellency AntónioGuterres while coming to this hall. It has been depicted in the exhibition that what an excellent arrangement was made for toilets and sewerage in the Indus valley civilisation.


United Nations have been moving ahead to achieve sustainable development goals under the leadership of His Excellency AntónioGuterres. Seventeen targets like cleanliness in the world, freedom from open defecation and clean energy by 2030 have been set under it. It has been resolved to achieve them.

Mr. Secretary General,

Today, I assure you that India will play a leading role in it, and we will achieve our targets before time. Today, India is rapidly moving towards achieving the sustainable development goals with the help of rich tradition, ancient inspiration and modern speech and through effective programmes.

Our government is laying equal emphasis on nutrition in addition to sanitation. In India, a people’s movement has also been started against malnutrition. VasudhaivaKutumbkam(the whole world is one family), it means that the job we have been doing, and our dedication for it, by considering the entire world as one family, is now before the entire world, before the mankind.


I would like to congratulate to all of you for this thing that after the four day long deliberations all of us have arrived at this conclusion that ‘four’ things are essential in order to make the world a clean place. And these ‘four Ps’ are our mantra: political leadership, public funding, partnership, people's participation. You people have recognised these four important mantras for comprehensive cleanliness through Delhi declaration. I express my gratitude to all of you for this thing.

On this occasion, I would like express my gratitude for millions and millions of cleanliness volunteers and my friends in Media for taking forward this Clean India Mission, and I mention media because the Clean India Mission has changed the general perception about the media. My country can proudly say that every single small or big unit of the media of my country, be it print media or electronic media, they have regularly covered the people who are working for cleanliness, they have regularly covered good things and publicised them and in a way an atmosphere of inspiration was created through these news reports and that is why I would like to particularly thank media for its active contribution.

Today, because of participation and contribution of all of you, our country is moving forward in the direction of realising this goal which seemed difficult, otherwise it would have been difficult. Our work is not over yet. We have not gathered here to be content. We have gathered here to get inspiration to finish the unfinished work at an even greater space.

We need to move ahead and we need to pay our glorious homage of a clean and healthy India to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. I am hopeful and I have full confidence that we the people of India will certainly be able to realise this dream, we will fulfill this solemn pledge and no Indian will lag behind in taking up whatever responsibility and in doing whatever hard work is required for this purpose.

All of you have come here on this important occasion, you provided us the opportunity to welcome you in India and I thank all of you, I thank all the guests for this thing.

Today, we also got the opportunity to release a stamp on revered Bapu on this important occasion on behalf of postal department of government of India. I….the active approach of the postal department of government of India and postal stamp is a messenger in itself, it connects with the history and also with the changing influence of the society.

Today, I saw an important occasion – Vaishnav Jan To Tene Re Kahiye–revered Bapu was a global person. And it was said about him that if someone will be told about Bapu Ji after several centuries that there was a man like him then perhaps he will say: no, it’s not true, it may be an imagination, is it possible that there was a man like him!

Revered Bapu was such a great soul and the thing that inspired him – Vaishnav Jan To TeneKahiye – a small idea had occurred to me that in 150 countries of the world, the well known lyricists, musicians, singers  etc., that all of them should come together to once again present Vaishnav Jan – in the same form.

I had told Sushma Ji this thing in a routine way but the way Sushma Ji and her entire team, with the kind of commitment that our colleagues posted in all the missions world over accorded importance to it, and the kind of quality, and the way these foreigners have sung these things, I believe that perhaps they would have practiced it for several days, so in a way they would have immersed in the philosophy of Gandhi Ji.

We have received a cassette but I can say this thing with confidence that these artists of those countries would be completely immersed in the philosophy of Gandhi Ji. They must have this question in their minds that what’s the matter, who is this great soul and they would have tried to understand the meaning of these things. This is for the first time that the global edition of the VaishnavBhajanhas been presented to the world.

And I believe that this effort which has been made with regard to 150 years, this word, this scene, this has the identity of all the countries of the world and I was telling the Secretary General of United Nations  that today the flutistsfrom his mother land, from his home country were playing flute in the song.

When the people of those countries will see, when they will hear the artist of their countries then a curiosity will be generated, and efforts will be made to understand it.

We Indians are not even aware about the language in which this VaishnavBhajan (Devotional song) has been written. We have internalised it so much in our minds that no one knows about the original language of the song but we keep singing. We may have been educated or raised in any language but in every corner of the country you will find the people who sing it.

And I believe that it will certainly carve out a place for itself throughout the world, it will carve out a place for itself in the minds of human race throughout the world. Once again I sincerely congratulate Sushma Ji’s team for this thing.


Today, the results that we have got in the field of cleanliness, these results provide us the inspiration to do much more. We have never claimed that we have done everything. However, now we have this confidence that the filth that we were abhorrent of, the filth that we were not even ready to touch and we used to run away from it, we have succeeded in ensuring cleanliness by touching it and we can achieve even greater success. This belief has been strengthened that: the common man doesn’t like filth and that he is ready to associate itself with cleanliness.

And Uma Bharti Ji, her department and her entire team, and all those citizens and different organizations of the country, those who have done this thing deserve to be praised, they deserve to be congratulated today. And I….to Uma Ji and Ramesh Ji and their entire team, and no one can imagine it from outside with what kind of dedication this work has been done even if government servants have some particular image outside. With regard to this thing, I can say that there is no bureaucracy, there is only one thing that is to follow the principles of Gandhi Ji and cleanliness.

Such a massive work has been done as a team. Every official and employee big and small has made this programme his own. It’s very rare.

And when I observe it thoroughly because of my emotional attachment only then I realise that how many people have been working on itso hard, how much effort they have been putting in, they are completely dedicated to it. Only then we experience a change in the country.

Today, it is an occasion for me to make a solemn pledge and it is also an occasion to take satisfaction because my countrymen have taken it forward as a tribute, as a homage which is expressed in form of this work to honor the venerable Bapu in true sense of word. I once again thank all of you.

Mr. Secretary General himself took time out to be with us on the occasion of birth anniversary of respected Bapu. And how we have been taking forward the goals set by United Nations in India, and he has graced the occasion by attending this programme when so many friends of the world are associated with it and today I sincerely thank him for thing too.

Thank you very much to all of you.



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