Swacchata Abhiyan by RKM Reaches 17th week
Mangaluru: Ramakrishna Mission Swacchata Abhiyan’s 17th week’s drive was held on 25th February from 7.30 am to 10.30 am at Kadri Bunts Hostel Road. Chandrakant Kulkarni of Pune, retired teacher lauded for his dedication and efforts regarding Swacch Bharath by the Prime Minister and Jagan, physically challenged and yet mentally invincible volunteer of the Abhiyan flagged off the drive in the presence of Swami Jitakamanandaji.
Chandrakanth Kulkarni addressing the volunteers spoke, “I have been voluntarily travelling all over India to witness the Swacchata Abhiyan. I have participated in Swacch Mangaluru Abhiyan for the last 2 days. I have never seen any other movement regarding Swaccata Abhiyan as consistently and as successfully being carried out like the one in Mangaluru. I credit Ramakrishna Mission for this. When I donated 1/3rd of my pension amount to Swacch Bharath fund, Prime Minister honoured me and recognized my humble deed and this shows that India is changing for better. I have no doubt that Mangaluru will soon become one of the cleanest cities.” Capt. Ganesh Karnik, Vittaldas Prabhu, Umanath Suvarna, Kamalaksha Pai, Dilraj Alva and several others were present on the occasion.
Cleanliness Drive: All the guests including Swamiji cleaned the area on Kadri Road for some time leading the group. Volunteers were divided into 5 groups. One group under the guidance of Ramachandra Bhat cleaned the left side of the road from Bunts Hostel Circle to Kadri Main Road. Another group of volunteers under Dr Satish Rao cleaned the right side of the road. Students of St. Aloysius Management college under Forens D’Souza & Jaswat cleaned the road dividers. Nalini Bhat & members of Hindu Warriors group helped in loading the garbage into tippers.
Beautification of bus shelter: The bus shelter in front of Kadri Natural Ice Cream Parlour was neglected and was full of dirt & heaps of garbage. Volunteers of the Abhiyan under Mukesh Alva cleaned the shelter by washing with water and painted thus giving it a facelift. They have also erected a board on the spot to create awareness.
Cleaning of the garden: A small garden lying behind the bus shelter was full of weeds and overgrown grass and was ruining the beauty of the spot. Shishir Amin, Sujith Pratap & about 20 youths cleaned the whole area.
Removal of flex banners: Illegally put flex banners that are ruining the beauty of the city and are posing problems to pedestrians were removed by the volunteers under Souraj Mangaluru, Sudhir Vamanjur & others youths. They removed nearly 1000 banners in A B Shetty Circle, Clock Tower, Hampankatta, Balmatta, Karangalpady, PVS, Kadri Main road etc.
Continued Work: A portion of the area in Attavara was cleaned last week. The area where garbage was being dumped before and a small garden was created to prevent people from throwing garbage was maintained today by cleaning the area and further beautified with more flower pots etc. by Mohammad Shameem. Mubarak & others.
Naveen Kumar of Sahakara Bharati, Kiran Fernandez, Ravi K R, Jayakrishna Bekal and Sandesha were actively involved in the drive.
MRPL & Nitte Group of institutions are sponsoring the drive.
Swami Chidambarananda (Chief Convener)
Contact – Swami Ekagamyanandaji, Convener
Ramakrishna Mission Swacchata Abhiyan
Tel: 9448353162 for more details
Chandrakant Kulkarni takes special pride in introducing himself as Chandrakant Damodar Kulkarni and addressing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Narendra Damodardas Modi.
Their similar middle names aren’t the only things linking the two men.
Kulkarni, 67, a retired teacher of drawing in Pimpri Chinchwad township near Pune, says the Prime Minister has made him “world famous” by mentioning him three times in his Man Ki Baat radio programme and interview with Times Now television channel.
One of his old friends called him up from Australia after hearing Modi mention him for his “inspirational” contribution to the Swachh Bharat Kosh (Clean India Corpus) from his pension. Kulkarni, who gets a monthly pension of Rs 16,000, has given 52 post-dated cheques of Rs.5,000 each to the corpus. He decided to make his contribution after he heard Modi’s 15 August 2015 speech, where the Prime Minister said 77% of the population in Uttar Pradesh had no access to toilets.
Kulkarni was appalled.
“I have two toilets in my home. Can I not help Modiji build the same for women in Uttar Pradesh who have to wait for darkness to fall to step out to relieve themselves? In Hinduism, the city of Kashi (Varanasi) is known as the city of Lord Mahadev. But I am ashamed that women in Lord Mahadev’s city do not have toilets.”
He insists that his contribution is, in fact, his selfish path to spiritual contentment. “Swaarth se parmarth tak,” he says in Hindi—from self-interest to god.
The National Democratic Alliance government launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) on 2 October 2014, aiming to make India open-defecation free by 2 October 2019. The mission plans to build more than 10 million individual toilets in urban areas by 2 October 2019, and half a million community and public toilets.
On 27 April 2016, the union ministry of urban development, through a written reply, told the Lok Sabha that by 31 March 2016, more than 1.3 million individual toilets had been built as against a target of 2.5 million. More than 68,000 community and public toilets had been built by that date, against the target of more than 100,000. In rural areas, nearly 19.2 million household toilets have been built since 2 October 2014, as per the website of the union ministry of drinking water and sanitation.
A total of 63,672 villages—or around 10% of India’s villages—have declared themselves open-defecation free as per this data. The sanitation coverage in rural India has increased from 40.6% to 48.3% since the mission was launched, as per a survey, done by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).
The government of India has also created the Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK) or Clean India Corpus to facilitate contributions by individuals and companies towards the campaign.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley told the Lok Sabha in a written reply during the 2016 budget session in March that by 31 January 2016, the corpus had amounted to Rs 369.74 crore.
Two months back, Kulkarni wrote a letter to the prime minister’s office (PMO) expressing his wish to contribute. He also sent the 20 cheques along with his letter. When his officials told Modi, he was reluctant to accept a contribution from a retired teacher’s modest pension.
But Modi said he would like to meet Kulkarni during his Pune visit last Saturday to launch the Smart City Project.
“When I got a call from the PMO, I could not believe what the officer was saying. My daughter-in-law even suggested we check the number using true dialler! When I went to meet Modiji, I felt like hugging him. But being a teacher, I know I have to follow the protocol. He held my hand for a long time and I gifted him two books on Shivaji Maharaj and Samarth Ramdas,” says Kulkarni.
“I also told the PM that this is money earned by ethical means; I want it to be used ethically. He was worried how a pensioner like me would live without one-third of the pension. I told him I do not need the entire monthly pension and I am glad he accepted my contribution.”
Kulkarni is proud of his family’s support for the gesture. His wife Anjali works as an office superintendent at a Central Ordnance Depot, son Mangal is a marketing professional in Pune, and daughter Manali is an intern at Delhi’s Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health, Neuro and Allied Sciences.
Kulkarni has been giving a series of media interviews from his modest two-bedroom flat. The only symbol of middle-class indulgence in his home is a 52-inch television set. Everything else is mundane and modest.
“I am embarrassed by so much of attention. All credit goes to Modiji. He is a great leader who acknowledges the small help that small people like me give,” says Kulkarni, clad in a white dhoti and tunic with a saffron scarf.
Kulkarni retired in 2007 from St. Joseph Boys School in Pune’s Khadki region. He proudly calls himself a “hard-core” Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker and a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) member. Both are pro-Hindu outfits.
“I worked for 35 years at a missionary school and would regularly attend the Sunday mass at the church in school. My colleagues would ask me if I felt like becoming a Christian. I would say to them that whenever I bowed before Christ I saw Lord Mahadev in him. To me faith means equality,” he says.
Why does he trust the government to make good use of his hard-earned money?
“After I heard Modiji’s speech, I did my own study on this issue and found out that to make progress, every citizen must have access to a toilet, which is the most basic thing. I also thought that Modiji is the right person to trust with my money. I felt the same about Lal Bahadur Shastri and Atal Behari Vajpayee,” he says.
Kulkarni saw hard times after his father died when he was only 13. “But I did not give up. I did all the hard work for my family. But leaders like Shastri and Vajpayee did all the hard work for the country. Modiji works for 16 hours a day.”