President Droupadi Murmu hails Naresh Lal’s swachchta endeavours
‘Eklavya of Andaman’ brings qualitative change in the lives of many through ‘Swachchta Hi Seva’
By SHRI RAM SHAW
New Delhi: Hailing Padma Shri awardee Naresh Chandra Lal’s swachchta endeavours in Andaman, President Smt. Droupadi Murmu said that swachhata has become a foundational tenet in not just every government scheme but also in the way of life of citizens. 12 crore toilets have been built in last nine years, liberating the country from the scourge of open defecation.
Recently, Naresh Lal met the President of Bharat at Rashtrapati Bhawan and presented her a detailed project report or call it his performance report of six years and four months as a Swachchta Ambassador of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Smt. Droupadi Murmu was all praise for him and said, “Swachh Bharat Mission is also a shining example of the philosophy of ‘Antyodaya Se Sarvodaya’. It has prioritised the marginalised and vulnerable sections of our cities, and has striven to uplift and empower the urban poor.”
The 67-year old and son-of-the-soil from Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the holy land of historical importance during freedom movement Naresh Chandra Lal, popularly known as ‘Eklavya of Andaman’, was on cloud nine when he received a letter from his “Guru, mentor, philosopher and guide” Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The letter (12 September, 2017) written by Prime Minister reads, “I am writing to you on a subject that is very close to Mahatma Gandhi’s heart – Swachchta or cleanliness. A clean India is the most noble service we can do for the poor, downtrodden and the marginalised. Swachchta mission is one such area where your contribution could bring qualitative change in the lives of many. I personally invite you to lend support to the ‘Swachchta Hi Seva’ movement. Your participation will further inspire others to be a part of the movement. Let us come together for cleanliness and work towards building a New India.”
Considering Modi ji as Guru Dronacharya, Naresh Chandra turned all his attention like Eklavya towards the words of Prime Minister and with a single-minded devotion and utmost dedication, he went on to become the brand ambassador of the cleanliness campaign for the Islands. He has been visiting every school, college and hospital of Andaman for cleanliness for over six years.
The result of this is that today the students of those schools are fully aware of the importance of cleanliness, health-hygiene and maintaining proper sanitation. He simultaneously focused his attention to all the hospitals in the Islands from General hospital to AYUSH PHCs CHCs. He is visiting regularly to make patients, attendants and medical staff aware of pure hygiene and sanitation. During Covid pandemic he did a commendable job. He even moved from village to village and every nook and corner of the city streets to check the accumulated waste. Wherever he finds garbage accumulation, he strives hard to get it cleaned immediately.
Calling upon people to extend their help in Swachch Sagar Abhiyan and beach clean-up activities, Naresh said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. Happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more. We are not important because of how long we live. We are import because of how effective we live.”
Naresh is a well-known film producer, director, theatre artist and he has played a major role in the preservation and promotion of Ramlila in Andaman. He is the only artist from the Island to be awarded Padma Shri for his contribution in two fields – film and theatre. In view of his contribution in the cultural and social field, institutions of different regions of the country have also honoured him.
He is also an Ambassador of Swachh Bharat Mission; Board Member, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), and Preview committee Member of International Film festival of India (IFFI) 2017 & 2021. A recipient of several awards, Naresh Chandra Lal is the only NSD (National School of Drama, New Delhi) graduate (Direction) from the Islands who passed out in 1990.
He has also been producing and directing films, not for commercial purpose but to bring about a big change in the society and country. In the field of art, he has been representing such an area of the country where people from many cultures live together.
The entire nation is celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav with great gaiety to commemorate 75 years of independence. But the irony is, even after seven decades of being freed from slavery, there’s been no representation in the Rajya Sabha from the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands since. Peeved by this “ignorance of the Central government”, several dignitaries and social workers have written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to nominate Padma Shri awardee Naresh Chandra Lal for Rajya Sabha from Andaman & Nicobar Islands.