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PM Shri Narendra Modi honours 10 women champions with ‘Swachh Shakti Puraskar’ on Women’s Day

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today called for making cleanliness part of our innate nature and a national identity.

Addressing the national level ‘Swachh Shakti-2017’ conference of women sarpanches of the country to mark the International Women’s Day at Mahatma Mandir here, he said that last two years efforts under the Swachh Bharat Mission has increased the number of toilets in India from 42 per cent to 62 per cent.

He exhorted the women sarpanches to work relentlessly to ensure this number increases sharply by the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 2019 during the next 18 months, just the way they dislike open defecation. He wished this conference being held in the auditorium and state capital, both named after Mahatma Gandhi, assumed special significance.

Lauding the natural characteristics of womenfolk of discharging their duty with greater dedication than men, he said the villages having women sarpanches should ensure there should be no female feticide. He asked them to take up ‘Beti Bachao; Beti Padhao’ (Save Girl Child and Educate Girl Child) as a social-national campaign.

PM Shri Modi said women comprise 50 per cent of population and if they take active interest, the country’s development is certain. There is need to remove gender imbalance in demography. He has seen daughters who don’t marry to care for her aging parents and has also seen as many as four sons sending their parents to ‘Vriddhashram (senior citizens’ dorms) to shirk off their duty. He recalled that this year sportswomen brought glory to India in the Olympic Games. Female candidates also perform better than males in competitive examinations.

He said that Rs. two lakh-crore are proposed to send directly to villages after 14th Finance Commission to entail they become self-reliant, with urban facilities in such technologically upgraded model villages. He said that 70,000 out of 2.50-lakh village panchayats have been connected with optical fibre cables, linking schools and panchayat ghars.

Referring to sarpanches demand for payment of their salary through the treasury since they represent the government, he said a meeting would be convened shortly to discuss the issue. The villages need complete overhaul, linking them to national development, celebrating birthdays of villagers settled elsewhere, felicitating elders, planting trees, converting garbage into gold to achieve a culture of cleanliness. Quoting World Bank report that Rs.7,000 is to be spent by a poor family for diseases due to filth, he said the money if saved could be spent on development works. The sarpanches should feel proud to ensure complete vaccination, primary school education. He recited Hindi translation of a Rabindranath Tagore’s poem to drive home his point for restoring natural beauty of the villages.

The Prime Minister presented the ‘Swachh Shakti Puraskar’ to ten women champions on the occasion of International Women’s Day. They are Uttara Takur (Chhema village in Chhattisgarh), Nilam Kumar (SHG, Haryana), Asha Putri (Rajasthan), Manju Maurya (Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh), Sumitra Kumari (Assam)< Shivani Dakoch (Shalvari, West Bengal), Akamma Harwal, SHG, Kannada), Ramilaben Gamit (Taparwada village, Tapi district, Gujarat), and Sushila Kurkutte (Palghar, Maharashtra).

Gujarat’s Swati Paradkar of Lijjat Papad, social worker Maltiben Joitaram Chaudhary, swimming champion Mana Patel, table tennis champion Shaini Gomes were also felicitated on the occasion.

Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Vijay Rupani lauded Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s as the son of the soil re-launching the Swachh Bharat Mission as a mass campaign on the International Women’s Day to take it to all corners of India from this land of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Morarji Desai. He exuded confidence the campaign would result in realizing Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of Gram Swaraj. He felt pride in Gujarat leading the country to free the womenfolk from the shame and insult of open defecation.

He said that Gujarat didn’t believe in women’s development alone but also in women-led development. The Gujarat Government has implemented 33 percent reservation for women in government service including police force, as well as in local self-government organizations. Gujarat is leading save girl, girls’ education, freeing tuition fee in medical colleges for girls, empowerment of women in all-women co-operative societies.

CM Shri Rupani said Gujarat has built 26 lakh toilets, having declared 25 districts cent per cent open defecation free. Gujarat is Number One in the number of open defecation free gram panchayats, reflecting a model of people’s participation. He complimented the women champions.

Prominent among those present at the conference included Gujarat Governor Shri O. P. Kohli, Deputy Chief Minister Nitinbhai Patel, Lok Sabha Speaker Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, former CM Smt. Anandiben Patel Union Ministers Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Shri Purushottam Rupala and Smt. Smriti Irani, MPs, Gujarat Ministers, MLAs, Chief Secretary Dr. J. N. Singh, among others.

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