Clean up India—Amma supports the Prime Minister of India in a crucial project
September 17, 2018 - India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amma spoke via video-conference on how to continue work to address environmental and cleanliness drives across the country. The project is called Swacchta Hi Seva.
At the Prime Minister’s request, Amma enumerated the long list of projects underway by Embracing the World. She stressed the importance of toilet construction and cultivating habits of cleanliness among the people.
“For many years now, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math has been actively involved in awareness campaigns and activities in areas such as environmental protection, cleanliness, health and water conservation. This year alone we have conducted 1,700 cleanliness drives all over the country,” Amma said. She also mentioned some of the ongoing initiatives.
“We have donated Rs 100 crore ($30 million USD) to the Swatcch Bharat (Clean India) and Namami Gange (Clean Ganges River) campaigns. And we have constructed 15,000 toilets in Kerala.”
The discussion was broadcast nationally and live-streamed on social media. Modi’s goal is to continue the drive to reduce pollution, clean up the environment and improve people’s health.
In addition to Amma, Modi met with legendary Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan, famous cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, leading industrialist Ratan Tata, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath, plus many other spiritual leaders, community workers, post secondary students and other citizens.
Amma took part from the Amritapuri Darshan Hall, where hundreds of people joined the assembled crowd to support Embracing the World’s efforts. Amma explained how the lack of toilets in rural villages remains a problem.
“It’s not only a matter of dignity but also of security for women, who have to go out in the night to relieve themselves. Long back, I was invited to a devotee’s house. Reaching there, we found there were no toilets. The women would have to relieve themselves in the open. Staying there, we would have to restrain ourselves until late night. So, Amma knows first hand the difficulties of such village women.”
Amma also spoke about the Math’s efforts with regards to its village adoption program. “We have adopted 101 villages throughout the nation as part of the Amrita SeRVe program. In these villages, we have not only constructed toilets but also taught the women living there how to construct toilets. This has helped them to learn a trade and earn a living to become self-dependent. In these villages, we are also conducting women empowerment programs.”
Amma next talked about Embracing the World’s development of reusable and biodegradable menstrual pads, named Saukhyam which means happiness in Sanskrit.
“It’s not enough to know about waste management. We also need to know how to stop producing waste. For example, the plastic sanitary pads readily available in the market are not biodegradable and add to the waste in the country,” Amma said.
“Our organization has created ‘Saukhyam Pads’ which are made from cotton and banana fibre. For women in the Amrita SeRVe villages, making these pads has also become a means to earn a living.”
Amma elaborated on the point that in order to maintain cleanliness in our overall environment, the awareness has to begin with children who are still in school. Her wish is that every school and college across India takes up the responsibility of maintaining cleanliness for two kilometers around their grounds and campuses.
“Waste collection is one part, but each municipality or panchayat (village council) should also have a place to segregate, recycle and dispose of trash. Otherwise our efforts will be incomplete.”
She concluded that she hopes people all over India will do their best to take part in the Swacchta Hi Seva campaign in a dedicated manner, and that the Mata Amritanandamayi Math will always play a strong part in making India clean and beautiful again.
Modi responded by saying that Amma has always been a beacon of hope for the poor and that her commitment is a source of great strength for the movement of cleaning up India. Having been born in Gujarat, he used some of Embracing the World’s work there as an example.
“I have always been a recipient of your love. From the time of the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake to the present day, whenever there has been an opportunity to serve, you have always been there in the forefront. You have played a very important role in making the desire to serve the poor to become more firm within me,” he said.
“The training that you have given women to become masons and to construct toilets is a great example of human resource development and skill development. Women were always ahead in matters of cleanliness and sanitation. But now you have also given them skill and empowerment as well.”
Immediately following the broadcast, Amma along with hundreds of other volunteers went to clean a 16-kilometer stretch of coastal belt in the Amritapuri area. The goal is to fully clean the region, but now even after three days of work, it is nowhere near complete.
And so, work continues. Large bags filled to the brim are creating piles more than two meters tall. Sorting teams to process the materials through waste management are at work more than 9 hours per day.
Meanwhile, volunteers across India are taking part in similar cleaning drives. For example, students and teachers in Amrita Vidyalayam schools and people in Amrita SeRVe villages are collecting trash in their areas. Cleanups will continue over the next two weeks.