President Ram Nath Kovind Saturday said the Swachh Bharat Mission is not just about physical cleaning, it is about spiritual, social cleansing and reawakening which represent the spirit of our independence movement.
Inaugurating a three-day Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention here, Kovind said Swachh Bharat has become a mass movement and a revolution playing out in real time.
"Swachh Bharat is a revolution playing out in real time. As an instrument of mass mobilisation, as a people's movement, and as a national goal towards which there is near total commitment, it represents the spirit of our independence movement," he said.
The president quoted the father of the nation in his speech several times and said in the past four years, in keeping with the traditions and teachings of Gandhiji, "I am happy to note that Swachh Bharat has become a mass movement with domestic and international participation."
Talking about the progress of the mission, Kovind said the relentless and strenuous labours of the past four years have led India to significant milestones.
He further said sanitation coverage was at 39 per cent at the start of the mission in 2014, which has touched almost 95 per cent.
"India is striving to eliminate open defecation in its entirety by October 2, 2019. This is the best 150th birthday gift we can give to Gandhiji," he said.
He, however, feels achieving universal access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene by 2030 is a major challenge in many parts of the world. Drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene are central to sustainable development goal, he said.
Emphasising on the importance of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the president said it sought to create a cleaner India with more efficient waste management, cleaner public and private places, improved sanitation and universal use of toilets.
When the mission will be completed, it will provide every Indian one sixth of humanity an opportunity for a dramatic leap, he said, adding the focused sanitation effort and the broader sustainable development goals represent a once-in-many-generations moment. "We are the chosen generation," he said.
The Sanitation Convention is being organised by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, also coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission.
Ministers and delegates from 68 countries are participating in the event.