India needs people like these to make Swachh Bharat Abhiyan a big success


When PM Narendra Modi urged Indians to participate in a cleanliness drive by picking up the broom and cleaning the dirt on the road himself, many people came out in his support. We saw the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Salman Khan and who not, out with a broom in their hands and cleaning the roads, picking up garbage. We saw their photo-ops, read other celebs’ and social activists’ speeches and were somehow convinced that our country is going to change for the better. But, did it?

Well, not to the extent we had expected, but things seem to be moving in the right direction in few areas. Read this, “ Sanitation facilities have improved in rural India. About 95 lakh toilets were built across the country in less than a year.” Now, guess who actually drove this positive change in communities and helped villages achieve Open Defecation Free status.

No, these people were no heroes. Neither they have or have had any political aspirations. They were just ordinary people, who did extraordinary things to make Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan a ‘roaring’ success. This article will introduce you to four of them: Sanjana, a transgender from Nandni; Mithilesh, a specially-abled kid, who can’t walk or speak, from Brahmanbheri; Madan Nath, whose main occupation is catching snakes or performing Kalbelia from Ganahera; and Rashida Ravani, a simple girl from Kesla.

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A specially-abled kid’s ‘special’ gift to his village

A specially-abled kid’s ‘special’ gift to his village
Don’t get deceived by Mithilesh’s frail figure and his specially-designed tricycle. He is a strong-willed man who encouraged 200 odd families of Brahmanbheri village to build a toilet in their home. Motiram Khobrade, the Gram Panchayat Secretary of Brahmanbheri, shares how an excited Mithilesh drove three kms on his tricycle with a loudspeaker and music system playing songs and slogans penned by Khobrade himself, and urged people to build a toilet in their homes. His hard work paid off. Today, not even a single Brahmanbheri household is without toilets. The movement was started on 21st April 2015 and by 10th May, the village was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Now, Mithilesh and Motiram plan to spread the movement in the neighbouring villages.

A resolution to celebrate Eid in an ODF Kesla

A resolution to celebrate Eid in an ODF Kesla
Rashida Ravani’s vivacious smile beautifully hides her resolute will, but her words reflect her innate strength. When Zila Panchayat spoke to her talking about the Rural Sanitation Movement, she decided this year’s Eid-ul-fitar will be celebrated in an ODF-Kesla. She, as the Panchayat Secretary and daughter of the village, did all she could do to motivate over 200 families to build a toilet. Right from holding meetings twice a day to educating everyone on the benefits of cleanliness and hygiene, she did it all. It wasn’t a smooth ride for her but she managed to achieve the feat in less than two months. Kesla was declared an ODF village two days after Eid-ul-Fitar, and that is when Eid celebrations commenced in the village.

All for his moustache

All for his moustache
Madan Nath declared that if all the members of his Kalbelia tribe, residing in Ganahera village, will not build toilets in next 15 days, he would shave off his moustache; his prized possession. He also threatened (for the good cause) that he will shave off other tribesmen moustache too if they won’t pay any heed. They did. Every family belonging to his tribe and that of his village heard him and build toilets. You know how Madan tricked them to do this? Every single day he walked to the village fields looking for people defecating in open, and coerced them to run back home and build a toilet of their own. It worked. Around 550 toilets were built in 15 days flat, of which 68 belonged to Kalbelia tribe.

All for a cause and identity

All for a cause and identity
Sanjana wanted an identity for herself and the transgender community, so when she got the proposal to drive Rural Sanitation Movement in the small village Nandni, she jumped on it. She, along with her friends in the community, knocked at every door, sang songs, explained why having a toilet was necessary, and encouraged them to build one at home. Her efforts paid off. Today, all 131 families in the village have a toilet.
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