NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today roped in nine celebrities including cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, industrialist Anil Ambani and several actors to spread awareness on cleanliness and make 'Swachh Bharat' a people's movement.
Apparently inspired by the 'Ice Bucket challenge' that has gone viral in recently, Internet-savvy Modi asked these eminent people to nominate nine more people to join the campaign and hoped the chain would continue.
Among others nominated by the prime minister are actors Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Kamal Hassan, Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, yoga guru Ramdev and the team of TV serial "Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma".
The invitees accepted the challenge expressing happiness.
"I humbly accept the challenge...," tweeted Tendulkar. Chopra also took to Twitter to accept Modi's invitation.
"I humbly accept respected Prime Minster Narendra Modiji's challenge. This is an idea that is long overdue," the actress tweeted.
Goa Governor Sinha said she was happy to be chosen as a campaigner for 'Swachh Bharat' and has already started work by inviting voluntary organisations and officers.
Modi administered a pledge to thousands of people, including schools children and government employees at Rajpath in the morning for remaining committed to cleanliness to make the country clean.
"I will remain committed towards cleanliness and devote time for this...I will neither litter nor let others litter," pledged all those present at a function to mark the launch of "Swachh Bharat" (Clean India) mission at India Gate by the Prime Minister.
Actor Aamir Khan also joined Modi in taking the pledge along with Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Venkaiah Naidu.
"I have invited nine people and asked them to come to public places and work towards a Clean India. I ask them to invite nine more people too...I am sure these nine people will do the work and each will invite nine more people to form a chain and clean the country," Modi said.
The original ice bucket challenge where such a chain was created was designed to raise funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease and motor neurone disease, and grew as a global viral phenomenon.
Modi also announced starting of a campaign on cleanliness through social media using his website MyGov.in and other websites, including MyCleanIndia, a new portal dedicated to the clean India campaign.
He later joined the children in the Walkathon after flagging it off at Rajpath. The Walkathon is part of steps for creating awareness on cleanliness.
Chopra also came up with a series of tweets on the challenge later.
"There is no time like the present to begin the journey towards change. Recognise that we R doing this for ourselves.
"If we dont get involved & support this campaign, nothing can happen. But if we come together we can make a difference.
"Every action we take will be important.I want to make the change. I want a clean India. It's time to clean up our act," her tweets said.
Ramdev said, "MyIdeaofSwachhBharat is CleanIndia on roads, sanitation for all and every citizen with swachh and spiritually pious heart."
"Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of an India which was not only free but also clean and developed. Mahatma Gandhi secured freedom for Mother India. Now it is our duty to serve Mother India by keeping the country neat and clean," said the first lines of the pledge administering by Modi to countrymen on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The pledge further takes the promise from every individual to remain committed to cleanliness and devote time for this.
"I will devote 100 hours per year -- that is two hours per week -- to voluntary work for cleanliness. I will neither litter nor let others litter.
"I will initiate the quest for cleanliness with myself, my family, my locality, my village and my work place. I believe that the countries of the world that appear clean are so because their citizens don’t indulge in littering nor do they allow it to happen. With this firm belief, I will propagate the message of Swachh Bharat Mission in villages and towns," reads the pledge.
It also exhorts all to encourage 100 other persons to take this pledge and endeavour to make them devote their 100 hours for cleanliness.
Modi also honoured Anant Khasbardar of Kolhapur in Maharashtra for winning the logo design contest of the "Swachh Bharat Mission" and Bhagyasri Sheth of Rajkot in Gujarat for giving the mission the tagline of "Ek Kadam Swachhta ki ore". Khasbardar was awarded a cash prize of Rs 50,000 while Bhagyasri got Rs 25,000, along with a commendation certificate each.