Role of religion: HH Pujya Swamiji and Sadhvi Bhagawati with Dr Jim Yong Kim
Role of religion: HH Pujya Swamiji and Sadhvi Bhagawati with Dr Jim Yong Kim

” INDIAN spiritual leader His Holiness (HH) Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati (HH Pujya Swamiji) and World Bank president Dr Jim Yong Kim discussed the role of faith in ending poverty during a summit on religion and sustainable development in Washington DC last week.

HH Pujya Swamiji also praised the World Bank’s commitment and support for the Indian government’s Clean Ganga Mission, an initiative launched by prime minister Narendra Modi last year.

International delegates gathered in the US capital, home to the World Bank Headquarters, for a conference on “Religion and Sustainable Development” with the participation of the UN, UNICEF, the governments of Britain, the US, Norway and Germany.

HH Pujya Swamiji is a co-founder and co-chair of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), a founder of the Ganga Action Parivar, Divine Shakti Foundation, and the Parmarth Niketan ashram in Rishikesh, north India.

He gifted the World Bank president with a garland made of cardamom as a symbol of the latter’s “green leadership” for the world and spoke about improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.

Later, HH Pujya Swamiji and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji (of Parmarth Niketan) held a discussion about water, sanitation and hygiene with a team from the World Bank. Both sides spoke about innovation in technology, such as bio-digester toilet systems.

They also discussed GIWA’s plans during the ongoing Kumbh Mela (in the Indian cities of Nashik and Haridwar) and inspiring people to act on the alliance’s 3H projects – health, hygiene and harmony.

In India, the deaths of several hundreds of children aged under five is said to be due to poor hygiene conditions.

Among those who took part in the talks were Junaid Ahmad, senior director, Water for the World Bank Group; Sanjay Pradhan, vice president of leadership, learning and innovation section of the World Bank; Soma Ghosh Moulik, senior specialist of water and sanitation, World Bank.

The meetings took place during HH Pujya Swamiji’s and Sadhvi Bhagawati’s visit to the World Bank headquarters for a conference on “Religion and Sustainable Development”. Participants included the UN, UNICEF, the governments of Britain, the US, Norway and Germany. The conference was organized jointly by the World Bank and the “Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities.”

The conference was in tandem with the flagship campaign launched by the World Bank in April this year in which HH Pujya Swamiji served as the Hindu representative, and as one of the five faith representatives at the World Bank’s flagship event at the launch of their annual spring meeting which focused on the role of faith leaders in eradicating poverty with Jim Yong Kim.

To learn more about the World Bank’s flagship programme ‘Power of Faith to Help end Extreme Poverty’, visit: http://live.worldbank.org/power-of-faith-to-help-end-extreme-poverty

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