The Prime Minister honors Amma for contributing to the campaign to clean up India
October 3, 2018 – Delhi, India
The Honorable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, and the UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, presented Amma with a special award at a prestigious gathering in Delhi yesterday.
The honor is in recognition for having made the largest financial contribution to Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, the most significant cleanliness campaign by the Government of India. The campaign started four years ago, and Embracing the World contributed Rs. 100 crore (currently $14 million US) to build toilets for the poor living along the banks of the Ganges River.
Speaking from the dais, Modi thanked Amma for the dedicated service to cleanliness and environmental protection. He said, “I especially offer my pranams to respected Amma because ever since we started this work, Amma has taken this campaign very proactively on her own shoulders.
“Inspired by various great people and humanitarian leaders like Amma, this campaign has gained immense strength and has transformed from being a campaign into a mass movement.”
The Prime Minister also thanked Amma for traveling to Delhi for the event saying, “In this event marking the beginning of the 150th birth-anniversary celebrations of Bapuji (Mahatma Gandhiji), it is a matter of great joy that Amma was able to find the time to come here in person, adding glory and prestige to this entire function.”
The awards ceremony was part of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention at Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Center in Delhi. A video about Amma and her ashram’s cleanliness projects was played during the convention.
“As soon as we wake up in the morning, we brush our teeth. Environmental cleanliness is just like that. It’s for our own health and wellbeing. If we clean a sewage canal with the right attitude, even that becomes service,” said Amma in the video. “Cleanliness is the most important thing.”
In 2015, Amma presented the cheque for Rs. 100 crore to Arun Jaitely, the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. The minister responded saying, “This Rs. 100 crore has more than a material relevance. Rs. 100 crore is a substantial amount when it comes from a single institution. But it gains more importance when a saint of eminence as Amma takes the first step then it sends a message across the country.”
At the event yesterday, others gracing the dais included Uma Bharti, Minister of Drinking Water & Sanitation; Susham Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs; Ramesh Jigajinagi, Union Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation; Manoj Sinha, Minister of Communication and Minister of State for Railways; and Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister of State with Independent Charge in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The Regional Vice President of the World Bank, the Executive Director of UNICEF, ministerial delegations from more than 50 countries, and top leaders from the Government of India were also in attendance.
The Prime Minister and the UN Secretary-General also presented awards to other categories for their participation in the Clean Up India Campaign. This included an award to three school children from different states who wrote letters to the Prime Minister to express their concerns, hopes and goals. Overall, 114 million people pledged to keep their cities clean.
In fact, the recognition of the initiatives to clean up India went beyond the country itself. The UN Secretary-General said that Modi and India are leading a new path for the well-being of the entire world.
“He knows what we need to do to avoid a catastrophe. Other leaders also recognize, know and understand, but the difference is that he not only recognizes but he acts,” stated Guterres.
On that note, a rendition of Gandhiji’s favourite bhajan was recorded with the participation of artists from over 40 countries. “Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye” is a 15th century song from Gujarat composed by poet Narsinh Mehta. The recordings were edited so that together they created a medley of the performances.
Modi in his final address at the event stated, “In a world where terrorism, radicalization, extremism and mindless hate are dividing nations as well as societies, Mahatma Gandhi’s clarion call of peace and non-violence have the power to unite humanity. At a time when inequalities are not uncommon, Bapu’s emphasis on equal and inclusive growth can herald an era of prosperity for the millions on the margins.”