SANJIV MEHTA
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER & MANAGING DIRECTOR, HINDUSTAN UNILEVER LTD
"Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, launched on the 145th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a bold initiative cleaning a country of a billion people is not an easy task. We as corporates should recognise that our participation in the initiative is necessary as this project is extremely ambitious and will require participation at the societal level. We believe that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is not different from nation building -the pursuit of cleanliness is an economic activity which can contribute to GDP growth, reduce healthcare costs and can become a potential source of employment. The economic costs of poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are well documented and needs no further elaboration. The area of sanitation deserves special attention in the overall scheme of things. For Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to be a success, an eco-system involving industry, non-governmental organizations and government bodies need to be created. The eco system should work towards creating an actionable pool of knowledge and toolkits which can be solutions to the challenges of sanitation in India. Knowledge resides in different parts which must be brought together through collaboration. Another important area for Swachh Bharat to be a success is the role of behaviour change. While the government and private sector has envisaged huge investments in infrastructure, it is necessary to realise that positive behaviour change has to be inculcated in people for long term sustainability. We need to recognise that tackling this issue is as much about changing engrained personal practices and social norms as it is about infrastructure and facilities. Changing behaviours in itself is a mammoth task and it deserves as much attention as building infrastructure. This is an area where the industry can play a larger role. Strategies to help people understand the importance of good hygiene and sanitation and teach them good behaviour change practices is a must. For too long, different sectors in India have operated in silos - addressing needs in vacuums rather than holistically. This is the opportune moment to bring together collective learning and address the issue comprehensively at a large scale. It is only then that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will become a genuine success."