Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 70th birthday was marked by the launch of a special cleanliness-cum-menstrual hygiene campaign by the volunteers of sanitation pioneer Sulabh International in different parts of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday.
The Sulabh volunteers launched the cleanliness campaign around the public toilets maintained by the low-cost sanitation NGO and distributed sanitary napkins among adolescent girls and women, apart from handing over masks to people at different places, including in Lucknow, Ayodhya, Kanpur, Varanasi and Agra.
Sulabh International celebrates the prime minister's birthday every year with an aim to raise awareness among the masses regarding cleanliness.
Founded by acclaimed social reformer Bindeshwar Pathak, the volunteers of the NGO tirelessly work towards providing sanitation facilities, besides restoring human dignity in the society.
"For the last six years, we have been celebrating the prime minister's birthday to give a further boost to the programmes close to Modi's heart and are also crucial for the nation's health and empowerment," Pathak said.
This year, Sulabh launched a nationwide campaign to address issues related to public health and distributed masks in about 70 cities and towns across the country, the NGO said in a press note.
Simultaneously, cleanliness drives, "say no to single-use plastic" and tree-plantation programmes were organised to drive home the message of a clean environment. This time, the focus of the campaign was on menstrual hygiene and the Sulabh volunteers distributed sanitary pads in public to break the taboo associated with menstruation.
In his Independence Day address, Modi had called for raising awareness about the stigma associated with menstruation. Pathak said the lack of awareness often costs girls their social lives and education.
He also said such cleanliness drives were organised in every state. "As an NGO working in the areas of sanitation and water, we worked with all partners -- in line with the prime minister's vision -- to achieve the open defecation-free targets for India. We applaud Narendra Modi for providing the leadership in tackling issues crucial for women's and girls' health and for achieving the SDG targets," Pathak said, adding, "We wish him good health on his birthday."
Widows living in various ashrams of Vrindavan also wished Modi on his birthday and distributed handmade masks among people, the press note said.