- On March 14, Nisha went on a hunger strike to get a toilet at home
- Inspired by her, 35 students staged similar protest against open defecation
- The local administration initiated construction of over 500 toilets
Mumbai: “Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Mahatma Gandhi, the man who valued cleanliness and hygiene above everything else. Translating his thought into reality, Nisha Kumari, a class 10 student from Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district sat on a hunger strike to get a toilet at home in Kud Basti village. She did this after learning about the health risks of open defecation in a swachhta class. Turning Nisha’s initiative into a mass movement, 35 more students from a Higher Secondary School in Kud staged protests in their respective houses demanding construction of toilets.
On returning from school on March 14, Nisha sat on a hunger strike after her parents did not comply with her demand and instead asked her to continue the practice of open defecation just like her family has for years. Resilient on her demand for a toilet, the 14-year-old did not eat anything for 48 hours. The news of her hunger strike spread like wild fire and within two days her family was granted approval for construction of an Individual Household Latrine at Nisha’s house under Swachh Bharat Mission.
On March 13, I had watched a programme in my school on the topic of Swachh Bharat Mission. I was thrilled to hear about it but at the same time I was sad for not having a toilet in my house, Nisha told PTI.
The next day, I started the hunger strike to press my family and the government to ensure that my house has individual latrine put in place. I did not take meals for over two days which resulted in a positive change when construction of a toilet began at my house, she added.
In the same week, inspired by her commitment towards cleanliness and hygiene, 35 students staged similar protests, post which the local administration fast tracked the toilet construction process in Kud. Work on a total of 558 individual household latrines began in the village, including those of the 35 school children who protested. Determined to give each of the 7,989 households of Kud A toilet, the local administration has set the target of making the village open defecation free by the end of this year.
Upon learning Nisha’s efforts towards swachhta, Union Minister of the state Jitendra Singh felicitated her and conferred her with the title of ‘child icon’ of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. He also thanked the young crusader for her setting an example in carrying forward one of the flagship programmes of the government. Nisha was presented a memento and a bag of textbooks in the presence of District Development Commissioner Udhampur Ravinder Kumar and other senior officers.
#ConstituencyUpdate: Felicitated young girl Nisha Rani from a remote village in district #Udhampur, who went on a fast to get a toilet set up in her household. Finally, a toilet has been set up and work started on construction of 500 more such toilets. #Jammu #Kashmir pic.twitter.com/PsUXZpurZy
— Dr Jitendra Singh (@DrJitendraSingh) March 24, 2018
Proud of her initiative, Mukesh Kumar, the principal of the school where Nisha studies said that the young girl has not only made a difference in her house but have also been instrumental in setting an example for other children. The school has also started providing information about the Swachh Bharat Mission and toilet to the students at morning prayers to create more awareness, the principal added.