Special Reports

Aamir Khan is sanitation ambassador

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New Delhi: Bollywood actor Aamir Khan has been appointed as the brand ambassador for the country’s new nationwide campaign on sanitation to promote cleanliness among schoolchildren in the country.

Launching the National School Sanitation Initiative at Vigyan Bhavan here on 27 April along with Union Minister for Urban Development Jaipal Reddy, Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said, "We are happy to have Aamir as our brand ambassador. We hope he will help this scheme become a success." He said the actor, through movies, has created public opinion related to education and his involvement would help the cause of sanitation too. Aamir had starred in education-related movies like ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘3 Idiots’.

Aamir, after accepting the honour, said he would sit down with both the HRD and urban development ministry officials to know more about the issue and would create a package which will be easily available through CDs and Internet for use in schools. "For me, it is not important how clean or unclean other places are. I think what is important is that we should look at our society and make sure we are doing everything that we can to make our surroundings healthier and cleaner," said Aamir. "Of course, we can learn from other societies which are doing better, but the core of why we want to be clean is not because others are, it’s because we want to be clean and healthy," he added.

 Earlier, Sibal had announced that health and wellness clubs would be set up in all schools for better sanitation practices. The minister said only nine percent of school students wash their hands before eating and such clubs will promote these issues among students. "They are the future and their good health will help a better tomorrow," he said.

Ms. Anshu Vaish, Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, said at least 45 percent of Indian schools do not have separate toilets for girls. "This is impacting girl students’ admission and we have a long way to go in improving this situation." She said that initially health and wellness clubs will come up in CBSE schools.

The initiative is a collaboration between the HRD and the urban development ministries. It is estimated that 17 percent of the urban population in the country has no access to sanitation facilities, while 50-80 percent of the waste water is disposed untreated.

T. Riyas Babu

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2010 on page no. 17

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