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Matters India - New Delhi | Friday September 16, 2016

Clean India Mission epitome to get national honor

New Delhi: An international organization that promotes environmental sanitation will on September 17 honor a 104-year-old village woman who has become an epitome of Clean India Campaign.

Kunwar Bai hit headlines earlier this year when she sold her goats to construct a toilet in Kotabharri, a remote village in Dhamtari district of the Chhattisgarh, a central Indian state.

The centenarian woman’s gesture inspired residents of neighboring villages to build toilets at home. Her efforts have played a prominent role in making around 75 percent villages in the district free of open defecation. Her initiative led to declaration of two development blocks, Chhuriya and Ambagarh Chowki in Rajnandgaon district, as open defecation free.

On Saturday, she received 200,000 rupees and a citation from Sulabh (accessible) International, an India-based social service organization. It was founded by Bindeshwar Pathak from Bihar in 1970.

The award recognizes the centenarian woman’s contribution to Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, a national campaign that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched on October 2, 2014, the 145th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

Making India open defecation free is one of the aims of the national campaign that covers 4,041 statutory cities and towns, to clean streets, roads and infrastructure of the country. It is India’s biggest ever cleanliness drive and 3 million government employees and school and college students of India participated in this event.

Her son as well as the village chief of Kotabharri Kunwar Bai will accompanied to New Delhi.

Although she lives far off from civilization, with no access to technology, newspapers or watches television, Kunwar Bai she came to know about the national cleanliness drive at a village council meeting.

Forgetting her old age, she set out to fulfil the goal and sold off all her goats so to build toilets. She then encouraged other villagers to follow her example. She also started showing the toilets at her home to the villagers while informing them about its significance.

The Sulabh International is all set to make her national epitome for Swachh Bharat Campaign. The NGO with 50,000 volunteers is the largest non-profit organization in India, claims Wikipedia.com.

During his visit to Chhattisgarh in February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised everyone by touching Kunwar Bai’s feet and praised her. He asserted that Indian could become clean if everyone followed the example of the elderly woman from a remote village. He hailed her as an inspiration for everyone, especially the youth.