How two visually impaired men became the inspiration for Swachh Bharat

By Avichal Chaturvedi, CEO, Zila Parishad Udaipur

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Sometimes those without sight can see the truth better than those with perfect vision. There’s no better example of this than that of Bhagwati Lal and Dayaram from Kalyanpur Panchayat in Udaipur district of Rajasthan. They did not let their lack of vision stop them from helping with the construction work of their toilets.

Countless inspiring stories have emerged of people making unusual sacrifices to attain Hon’ble PM’s vision of a clean India. Rajasthan in particular has led the way under the leadership of the Hon’ble CM Smt. Vasundhara Raje.  People from some of the most backward regions of the State have contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission.  This story from Udaipur is particularly poignant.

Udaipur is predominantly a tribal district with mountainous terrain, and a highly scattered population. Many basic facilities are only now beginning to reach these remote areas. But surprisingly the message of Swachh Bharat has gained immense currency here; thanks to the relentless efforts of District Collector Mr. Rohit Gupta.

As a part of his district level campaign titled ‘Garvilo Mewar’, block and panchayat level teams of government officials and local people have traversed the length and breadth of the district, inspiring nearly 150 panchayats to achieve ODF status.

It was yet another such early morning follow-up exercise for the Rishabhdev block SBM team, as they went around spreading the message of cleanliness and trying to convince people to not defecate in the open. When they reached a hamlet of Meghwals – an SC community – block coordinator Somalal saw an old lady leading an old man by his hand towards the farm. When asked, she revealed that she was taking her son, 67 year old Dayaram, for his morning ablutions. Further questioning revealed that Dayaram and his wife lived separately from their son’s family and his wife had passed away.  However, he sustained himself and his mother by working under the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA scheme but is barely able to make ends meet.

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His heart rending story strengthened the resolve of the block team and they informed Dayaram that he was entitled to an amount of Rs 12000/- if he constructed a toilet for himself. The team also offered to help him out by lending him construction material in advance. Upon hearing this, Dayaram immediately started working and within no time dug a soak pit with help from his neighbours. One among them was Bhagwati Lal, another blind person from the same community. After helping Dayaram, he started work on constructing his own toilet. In a delightful irony, these two sightless men opened the eyes of their entire community towards the importance of cleanliness.

The passion exhibited by Dayaram and Bhagwati has proved to be extremely infectious, and work has started in earnest across the entire community.  As has usually been the case, the inspiration for this mission has emerged from within the community, thus validating the community led total sanitation (CLTS) approach.

The District administration has also recognized the invaluable contribution of Dayaram and Bhagwati, and has declared them as ‘Swachhta Doots’ – or brand ambassadors for Swachh Bharat Mission in Udaipur district.

It is no less than a miracle that those born in darkness are now leading millions towards the light.

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