Conclusion of the 2-day GIWA-UNICEF Summit in Leh-Ladakh
The second day of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA)- UNICEF Worship for WASH (Sarva Dharma Swachhta Evam Sadbhavna Sankalp) Summit concluded with a historic pledge and water blessing ceremony on the banks of the Sindhu River, at the Sindhu Darshan Ghat,in Leh-Ladakh.
GIWA’s leaders representing India’s diverse faith traditions gathered together to offer the water of the Indus River onto the globe as a symbol and a prayer that all of humanity should have access to safe and sufficient water, sanitation and hygiene. Hon’ble Dr. Harsh Vardhanji, Minister of Science and Technology addressed and concluded the two day summit by saying, “It is so wonderful to see such commitment of our interfaith leaders of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance take this message of Swachhta to every street corner, every place of worship, reaching out to as many communities and in as many ways as possible in their two day visit. I am certain that with this type of motivation and commitment Swachh Bharat will soon be accomplished and the vision and the mission of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji to have India rise as a world leader will come to fruition.” He also lauded UNICEF, the corporate and media stakeholders who had joined in the two day summit for their commitment and dedication and said that with their collective involvement with the faith leaders nothing could be impossible.
One of the GIWA leaders, Ven Bhikkhu Sanghasena added that the Summit has put a spotlight on the more critical issues ailing Ladakh, and the awareness generated through the GIWA platform moving forward would be catalytic. “This coming together of political leaders and religious leaders, speaking in one voice, for the cause of Swachhta, is unprecedented.”
Secretary General GIWA, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati thanked UNICEF and all of the Interfaith Leaders for joining together, for creating history and encouraged the faith leaders to take the momentum generated from Ladakh back to their communities and congregations and to continue inspiring, engaging and encouraging everyone to become part of a WASH Revolution. She added, “Whether its the River Ganga or the Indus River, our nation’s very identity is shaped by these rivers. Hence,as Pujya Swamiji says so beautifully and so simply, if Ganga dies then India dies, if Ganga thrives then India thrives. This is not only true for the Ganga River but also for the Indus River.Our rivers teach us how to serve and give with no discrimination, no expectation, no hesitation and no vacation. Today, we must pledge that we to will serve in this way in order to ensure adequate, affordable and accessible WASH to all.”
Co-founder of GIWA, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji said, “At the beginning of this journey we had asked ourselves why WASH? Over the past two days of deliberation, its importance has been understood by all. Today, in Ladakh, we take a pledge of ‘Ekta’ or oneness – without boundaries of caste, creed and religion – that we will all work together to ensure the problems related to sanitation in Ladakh and the country are solved. That is our mission, message and take away from this momentous gathering.”
GIWA’s Interfaith leaders presented the National Ganga Rights Act to the Hon’ble Minister and called to pass a comprehensive legislation, like the draft presented to him, to protect the river and her tributaries from over-extraction and over-exploitation. They also shared three point recommendations, which local stakeholders had shared with them, to help improve the lives of local Ladakhis as well as facilitate sustainable tourism and development of the region. GIWA Interfaith Leaders and spiritual heads from major religions of India- included but were not limited to Giani Gurbachan Singhji Chief Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Maulana Dr.Kalbe Sadiqji Shia Leader from Lucknow, Maulana Luqman Tarapuriji Sunni Leader of the Global Imam Council, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Harichetnanandji , Venerable Bhikkhu Sanghasenaji Buddhist spiritual leader- President of the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, Mushahid Khan, Chairman and Founder of International Islamic Sufi Foundation members of UNICEF India and many others.