Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Celebrating Polio free India by UNICEF

A Thanksgiving event was organized by UNICEF on July 27th'14 in New Delhi with respect to Social Mobilization Network (SmNet) for Polio. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the event. The event marked the humbling presence of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, the Goodwill Ambassador of the organization, and Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the pioneer of the polio eradication program in India.

The event was keenly organized to thank thousands of mobilizers who worked incredibly hard to make India what it is today...a polio free country. It was scheduled at 6.30 pm in Thyagraj stadium. I hit the venue at around 5.15 pm. When I reached there, I found huge preparations for the evening. A number of guests, journalists and others were present to attend it. Several volunteers directed every one of them to their respective places. They also handled every query with calm and sense. Chairs looked enticing with white embracing and yellow embellishments. The stage was marvelously decorated. The yellow background highlighted Mr. Bachchan's signature pose for Polio campaign extremely well. Everyone looked busy to make the event a great success. All in all, it was a very impressive arrangement.

And here I am before the event could start.

Finally the wait was over and Mr. Bachchan graced the venue dot on time. Everyone welcomed him with thunderous applause. It was really good to see him. Along with him arrived Trustee, Rotary foundation Mr. Sushil Gupta, UNICEF India Representative Mr. Louis Georges Arsenault and WHO Representative, India Dr. Nata Menabde. It was after they were seated, the event started. 

First one to address the crowd was Mr. Arsenault. In a thoughtful speech, he said,

I had never thought India could be free of a disease such as Polio but a huge credit goes to 8000 strong workers (mobilizers) who worked tirelessly day after day. The corporate sector also helped us to achieve the goal. After Mr. Bachchan took the campaign responsibilities on his shoulders, it received loads of response and attention. His message Do Boond Zindagi Ki is found to be the most effective message to fight against polio. It helped us a great extent to stand where we are today.

He was followed by Mr. Gupta who also thanked all the mobilizers. He said,

Dr. Harsh Vardhan initiated and helped to end polio. Because of Mr. Bachchan, the misconception pertaining to the disease came to end and he encouraged lots of people towards immunization and vaccination. 

WHO India Representative, Dr. Nata Manabde expressed her views in an elegant style.

We have been celebrating out success year after year. Thank you to everyone who made polio free India possible today. This is the result of perseverance and the fighting spirit that we all have. So far, India is the best country to implement all polio eradicating strategies. Other polio infected countries look at India for inspiration.

Now was the turn of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, our Hon'ble Union Minister. He delightfully added,

I am happy and satisfied. There has been no polio cases retrieved in last three years which is a huge achievement. We should be satisfied but not self-complacent. If we can eradicate polio, we can do anything.

Then we were showed a short video in which we could see the toiling of mobilizers working to reach out door to door for the vaccine. It was a very heart touching video. I heartily bow my head to all those workers who had the guts and stamina to overtake every hurdle that ever dared to bar their ways yet they did it.  

Finally rose Mr. Bachchan, the Goodwill Ambassador UNICEF, to commence his gratitude. When he stood up, everyone clapped. I was ridiculously enchanted by his magical presence. He said,

If I say the truth, I did nothing for the campaign. I just delivered few dialogues that was easy to do but these thousands of workers did everything; they made it possible. I dedicate myself to polio and if other campaigns need me, I promise to be part of them too. 

He further added after lighting up the ambiance with a bit of humor. 

I feel privileged to be a part of such campaign. I am delighted that our efforts in spreading awareness and mobilizing communities for polio vaccination have been successful. But the fight was not easy. We thank all SmNet mobilizers and Government vaccinators who have made this victory possible.

It was a very humble speech especially because he chose simple yet exquisite Hindi to express his views. Using our national language to show the gratitude won each person's heart present there. I was spellbound by his presence and so badly wanted to have a snapshot with him but I proved to be bit unfortunate here. Anyways, no regrets. At least I got to see him speak on the issue that he firmly believes in. I enjoy what I could gather from such beautiful event like inspiration to achieve the impossible, passion to fulfill dreams and perseverance to work hard for the chosen target.

Finally, I also express my hearty wishes to UNICEF for achieving what once thought was impossible. It is a matter of great pride to be able to live in a Polio free country. Thank you UNICEF! Thank you SmNet!

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