Rishikesh (Uttarakhand): Prominent leaders of all major faiths in India as well as political leaders and celebrities will gather here Saturday for a summit, where they will ask their followers to embrace the spirit of "Swachh Bharat" campaign, among other things.
The two-day WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) Summit, on the banks of the Ganga, will be inaugurated by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat.
It is being organised by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) at Parmarth Niketan here with the technical support of Unicef.
"After extensive dialogue, the leaders will state their personal pledges and resolve to take the message of WASH to their congregations and followers, embracing the spirit of 'Swachh Bharat' campaign so that homes and communities across India can have improved access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene," the organisers said in a statement Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the "Swachh Bharat Mission" (Clean India) campaign Oct 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Over 200 dignitaries, including yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Unicef Representative to India Louis George Arsenault, Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi and faith leaders from the US, Europe, Australia and Africa, will also attend the event.
The UN has laid great emphasis on WASH both in its Millennium Development Goals of 2000-2015 as well as its upcoming Sustainable Development Goals. This is the first time that faith leaders have come together in an alliance to support the UN missions.
The GIWA, co-founded by Parmarth Niketan Ashram president and Ganga Action Parivar founder Swami Chidanand Saraswati, aims to inspire leaders of the world's religions to come together in the name of providing improved water, sanitation and hygiene to everyone.
GIWA was launched globally Sep 25, 2013, at Unicef headquarters during the UN General Assembly week, sponsored by the Netherlands and USAID.
"The engagement of faith leaders opens the way for millions of people to hear about good WASH practices as part of their accepted way of living through belief and religion," Unicef's India WASH chief Sue Coates was quoted as saying in the statement.