This year marked the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. India celebrated the non-violence leader's birth anniversary by organising cleanliness drives, film shows and making a giant spinning wheel made out of plastic waste. The government has launched several programmes to commemorate the occasion. One of the most pivotal steps taken on Gandhi Jayanti is the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014. The reach and effect of this cleanliness drive are significant and continue to grow every year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often invoked Gandhi in his speeches, saying his ideas and philosophies are as relevant today as they were during his lifetime.
PM Modi paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial in New Delhi in the morning. Political leaders, school children and the public also assembled at the memorial to pay their respects. President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu visited the Rajghat, the resting place of the Father of Nation, to pay floral tributes to the great leader. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi also paid floral tributes visiting Rajghat. Union Home Minister Amit Shah gave a clarion call to shun single-use plastic while urging citizens to take an initiative to make this a mass movement. After flagging off the party's 'Sankalp Yatra' to mark Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, Shah and Delhi BJP leaders undertook a 'padyatra' for 500 metres amid tight security in Delhi.
Rural India declared open defecation free
PM Modi visited Sabarmati Ashram, the seat from where Gandhi launched most of his freedom movements, to pay tributes to the Father of the Nation. During his 20-minute visit, Modi paid floral tributes, visited a museum on the premises, interacted with students and also visited Gandhi's house, 'Hriday Kunj', inside the Ashram.
Modi also launched limited-edition Rs 150 coin to commemorate Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. Pointing that the world was celebrating Gandhi’s birth anniversary this year, PM Modi said: “The whole world is celebrating Bapu’s birth anniversary. A few days ago, United Nations released a postal stamp to make this occasion memorable, now commemorative stamps and coins have also been released here.”
Showering praise on Swachhta warriors for their continuous hardwork, Modi declared India Open Defecation Free country. Addressing a large gathering at the Sabarmati Riverfront, PM Modi said it is a great satisfaction that Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of a ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India) is being fulfilled today. “Today rural India and its villages have declared themselves ‘open defecation free’. The whole world is appreciating and awarding us. Providing toilets to more than 600 million people in 60 months, building more than 110 million toilets, whole world is amazed by this,” PM Modi said speaking at the Swachh Bharat Diwas event in Ahmedabad. PM Modi also underlined that the government would achieve its target of single-use plastic-free India by 2022.
India's largest 'Charka' inaugurated
On the outskirts of New Delhi, government officials erected a 1,650 kg spinning wheel, an important symbol associated with Gandhi, made entirely out of plastic waste. Gandhi used a spinning wheel to spin his own cloth in a gesture of independence and Indian self sufficiency.
The 'charkha', which symbolises Gandhi's dream of Swadeshi, was inaugurated by Union Minister Smriti Irani and other dignitaries. It measures 14 ft × 20 ft × 8ft and is made of 1,250 kg of used plastic, according to officials.
Irani said, "The gigantic spinning wheel is not the only representative of construction and beautification but also represents our commitment towards the plastic-free campaign." The charkha has been recognised as the largest made of used plastic waste in the country by India Book of Records, Noida Authority CEO Ritu Maheshwari said. Officials said the wheel was symbolic of the Modi regime's commitment to move away from the use of single-use plastic.