Akshay Kumars teams up for an “open defecation free” India

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar is on a mission to spread awareness about the importance of building toilets and putting an end to defecation in the open — a message he is giving out with his forthcoming film Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. He says it is very important for everyone, especially women, to have basic facilities of a safe and clean toilet.  Open defecation refers to the practice whereby people go out in fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using the toilet to defecate.

Akshay Kumar Swachh Bharat AbhiyanStressing on the importance of personal hygiene, health and a toilet, actors Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar are all set for their new project “Toilet – Ek Prem Katha” to hit the big screen. The movie, a social satire, is based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ Governments Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and talks about the issue of open defecation. The main motive behind the movie is to make people aware in a tongue in cheek about the Open Defecation problem India is fighting.  Follow Spotlife Asia for the latest news and updates.

Open defecation poses a serious threat to the health of children in India. The practice is the main reason India reports the highest number of diarrhoeal deaths among children under-five in the world.  Every year, diarrhoea kills 188,000 children under five in India. Children weakened by frequent diarrhoea episodes are more vulnerable to malnutrition, stunting, and opportunistic infections such as pneumonia.

In a blog post titled, “India Is Winning Its War on Human Waste,” Bill Gates recently commended Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for launching the “Clean India” campaign, which aims to end open defecation by October 2, 2019 and install 75 million toilets across the country.

Taking one more step forward, the makers of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha have created a co-branded social initiative ‘2 For Toilet’ with CleanMate, a brand of toilet cleaner liquid and home cleaning products by Future Consumer Limited. The initiative aims at raising funds that will be used to improve sanitation facilities across the country.  Kumar says it is very important for everyone, especially women, to have basic facilities of a safe and clean toilet.

India alone has an estimated 600 million people defecating openly, according to a study by the United Nations, accounting for more open defecation than any other country in the world. According to Bruce Gordon, acting coordinator for Sanitation and Health at the World Health Organization, open defecation results in the spread of a number of diseases, including cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.

“I am extremely happy that ‘2 For Toilet’ initiative propagates the same message as my upcoming movie. Everyone, especially women, should have basic facilities of a safe and clean toilet,” Akshay said in a statement.

Rahul Kansal, Head – Business Strategy and Marketing, Future Consumer Limited, said: “We are delighted to partner with Akshay and his upcoming movie to promote the same cause as this will certainly help us reach out to millions of people.” Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, directed by Shree Narayan Singh, deals with the need for sanitation in India and is based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign. It features Bhumi Pednekar and Anupam Kher.  Akshay and Bhumi had recently featured in a special video released to promote the film. In the video Bhumi asked him who does he consider a true ‘desh bhakt’, the actor had something really witty and sassy to say.

“I believe a real desh bhakt is a guy who sits in Indian style at a western styled toilet,” he replied. Later Akshay Kumar also pointed out that after the release of Toilet Ek Prem Katha, the Income Tax department will be after her life. “Kyunki tumne bahut ‘do number’ ka kaam kiya hai.”

The Government of India is looking at the challenge of Open Defecation very seriously. The government has a target to make India “Open Defecation Free” by 2019 and working with partners such as UNICEF India and others in its flagship program to achieve this target through the Swatchh Bharat Mission.

Efforts are also underway to address mechanisms to ensure that supply chains can be activated as demand for toilets within communities increases. It also works to identify toilet technologies suited to different climatic and geographic zones and is supporting efforts to improve the skills of masons to build better quality toilets. In West Bengal, there is a pilot under way to create a model institutional and delivery structure to make districts open defecation free.