GIWA pledges at the Global Citizen Festival
Leaders representing India’s six major faiths brought an audience of more than one lakh people to their feet as all joined hands and pledged to join forces at Mumbai’s Global Citizen Festival for a Swachhta Kranti (Clean Revolution): India’s burgeoning social movement to protect and save lives by ensuring everyone, everywhere has access to healthy, sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The historic Festival, which attracted a global audience of some 1 billion people, is renowned for its unique mission for drawing together youth who are motivated to take actions for the environment and social good.
The event brought together performers including Coldplay, JAY Z, Demi Lovato, Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Parineeti Chopra, Alia Bhatt and Shraddha Kapoor.
The faith leaders, representing Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism, were assembled by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), with the technical support of UNICEF, and through the leadership and guidance of GIWA co-founder, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, who is also President of Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh. The faith leaders made their unique appearance in response to the fact that more young children are dying every year in India than in any other nation in the world. A primary reason for this is the poor state of India’s sanitation, with nearly 600 million people defecating in the open. At the same time, India’s water is simultaneously becoming increasingly more scarce and polluted, leading to growing instances of drought and disease. According to the assembled faith leaders, nothing short of a people’s-led movement can conquer these pressing issues.
Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, “Right now, as you all know, our world is at a tipping point…. it is up to us to decide which way things shall turn. My sisters and brothers, there is a great and mighty solution to all that ails us. It is you.”
Said Muslim Leader, Dr. Kalbe Sadiq, Chairman & Founder of the International Islamic Sufi Foundation, “No longer can we turn the other way as billions of litres of sewage contaminates water that should otherwise be clean, pure and drinkable. Let us commit together to end the pollution, save our water.”
Said Sikh Leader, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh Mukhi-Sewadar of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha in the UK. “Cleanliness is synonymous with Godliness. So let us revere the air as our Guru, the water as our father and the earth as our mother. Let us pledge to leave behind a positive legacy to be enjoyed by the future generations that will follow us.”
Said Jain Leader, Dr. Lokesh Muniji, Founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharati. “Now is the time to forever end the senseless deaths of far too many young children due to poor water, sanitation and hygiene. Now is the time to dream big and act heroically. Now is the time for a Swachhta Kranti.”
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, led the leaders and the audience in a historic pledge. She shared that “GIWA commits, by December 2019, inspire 2 million people, including at least 400 faith leaders, to live and act toward creating a world of improved cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene, in which fresh water flows pure and sustainably for all,” and she urged the audience to join hands and hearts in this critical mission.
The Faith Leaders Assembled by GIWA Included:
- Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, Co-Founder of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
- Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary- General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, President, Divine Shakti Foundation
- His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, is the heart son of HH Gyalwang Drukpa
- Bhai Mohinder Singh, leads the Sikh community Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) as chairman and spiritual successor to the founding Saints
- Maulana Kalbe Sadiq Saheb, Founder of Tauheedul Muslimeen Trust, Islamic scholar (Shia Leader)
- Diwan Zainul Abedin Ali Khanji, Religious Head and Sajjada Nasheen of the Ajmer Sharif Shrine (Sufi Leader)
- Imam Umer Ilyasiji, President of All India Imam Association (Sunni Leader)
- Acharya Lokesh Muniji, President of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti (Jain Monk)
- Ven Bhikkhu Sanghasenaji, Founder-President of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre
- Sufi Mushahid Khan, Chairman and Founder of International Islamic Sufi Foundation
They also were invited to a special high level dinner the night before the Global Citizen Festival, hosted by tGELF’s Shiv Khemkaji, in which they spoke about the need for the movement to end poverty and collective action and pledge to bring this shift. They lauded and encouraged a multi-sectoral, diverse stakeholder involvement to bring about a shift in global consciousness, such that equal and fair distribution of wealth and resources ensured the provision of basic resources for everyone, every where.