Vidya Balan’s clean picture

The Dirty Picture actor Vidya Balan will now be in a new role — as brand ambassador of government’s sanitation programme — and Union Minister Jairam Ramesh is hopeful that her involvement will make the campaign to end open defecation a “national obsession.”
“For an actor, what can be a better thing than doing a dirty picture on screen and off screen a clean picture? I think this role will work a lot because we are working on a national movement,” Ms. Balan said after meeting Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh who has successfully roped in the celebrity to spread awareness about the drinking water and sanitation campaign.
“This is a clean picture (for Vidya Balan),” Mr. Ramesh quipped when reporters asked Ms. Balan if people will like her in a role to end the menace of open defecation in the country, an issue closely related to women’s health and security.
“I think it is a matter great honour for me, becoming the brand ambassador of sanitation campaign. It needs to become a national obsession. I am ready to (do it) in my capacity. I am convinced,” Ms. Balan, who has won the national award for her role in The Dirty Picture this year, said.

Mr. Ramesh said Ms. Balan, who will appear in ad campaigns to propagate construction and use of toilets, is actually the first brand ambassador of the Ministry.
“She (Vidya Balan) has agreed to give her time for the campaign for two years. She will be fully involved in the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan — (the re-structured version of the Total Sanitation Campaign),” he said.
“Vidya’s involvement in the campaign will help make it a national obsession,” Mr. Ramesh said.
Despite being one the fastest growing emerging economies, access to adequate sanitation remains abysmally low in India compared to many other countries with similar or lower GDP.
According to UNICEF-WHO Joint Monitoring Programme Report 2010, nearly 60 per cent of India’s 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation.
“…It is disgusting and disturbing that sanitation is not the top priority to people… especially for women and children across the country. And we are going to take the message across the people and it is not even going to be as expensive as owning a mobile phone,” Ms. Balan said agreeing with the statement of Mr. Ramesh who recently kicked up a controversy by saying that “women demand mobile phone, not toilets.”

“That’s exactly what the point of this drive or this movement, if we call it, is going to be,” she said when asked about Mr. Ramesh’s controversial statement.
The Minister said barring her expenses, Ms. Balan will be carrying out the campaign without any remuneration. The campaign will be launched soon.
“This (the sanitation campaign) is going to be a people’s programme and we are going to make it a social movement.”
Actor Shahrukh Khan has also agreed to be part of the media blitzkrieg propagating construction and use of toilets by all, habits of hand washing, personal hygiene and managing waste.
“It is going to be a two year programme. Vidya Balan has been very gracious with her time and commitment. It is going to be a very serious commitment on her part. She has had a dirty picture in reel life, it is simply a clean picture in real life,” he said.
“Unless we develop a sense of shame, develop a sense of anger… it is really going to be pathetic. It is not a government programme, it is going to be a people’s programme,” he said.



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