Rajkot: Cleanliness was an important aspect of Mahatma Gandhi's life and the father of the nation was the most deserving candidate for the UN's Champions of the Earth Award, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said ahead of 150th birth anniversary of the father of the nation.
Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron were jointly awarded the UN's highest environmental honour for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of cooperation on environmental action.
Gandhiji was the most deserving candidate for the United Nations Champions of the Earth award, the prime minister said on Sunday while addressing a gathering here after inaugurating a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.
"Cleanliness was an important aspect of Gandhi's life and he used to say, if he had to choose between cleanliness and freedom, he would choose cleanliness first, such was his commitment towards cleanliness," he said.
Every Indian should have it in their hearts that a barrister (Gandhiji) gave up everything for the country and freed the country from the shackles of foreign rule, Modi said.
The prime minister also asserted that sanitation coverage in the country had increased manifold under his four-year-old government.
Sanitation coverage in the country before 2014 was a mere 35 per cent. However, in four years of the NDA government, it has increased to 95 per cent, he said.
Modi said the sanitation coverage in the country before the NDA government came to power in 2014 was a mere 35 per cent despite there being so many governments in the past and a dozen prime ministers.
"The United Nations has said 3 lakh children were saved due to the cleanliness movement (of the NDA government). What bigger humanitarian work can there be?" he asked.
The prime minister said people stood up to applaud him for receiving the 'Champions of the Earth' award, but the most deserving person for this honour was Mahatma Gandhi and also the 125 crore citizens of the country.(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)