Launched by WaterAid India, an international non-government organisation, in collaboration with Ministry of Rural Development, the campaign will involve 10 states initially and inculcate simple everyday hygiene through awareness campaigns.
The campaign envisages training of village chiefs, water and sanitation committee members of rural governing bodies, schoolteachers, students and volunteers.
'People must be motivated to adopt better cleanliness practices. Once people become aware, several diseases like diarrhoea can really be reduced,' said Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.
Around two million people succumb to diarrhoea every year in the world. This can be halved if people just do the old fashioned thing and wash their hands with nothing other than soap and water.
In India alone, hand-washing before meals and after defecation can save the lives of over 250,000 people annually, said WaterAid experts, quoting reports from Britain's International Scientific Forum and Home Hygiene.
The campaign starts off with Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
'If we want to reduce the under five mortality by two-thirds before 2015 as mentioned in the millennium development goals, water sanitation and hygiene intervention is must. And we hope the campaign will help in achieving the goal,' said Anand Shekhar, regional manager of WaterAid.
Shekhar said that the campaign will continue for three years and its impact evaluated on an annual basis.
'Special flip books, audio and video cassettes, too, have been designed to be distributed in schools. Wall paintings on the theme 'Clean hand for a healthy life' would provide synergy to the campaign,' Shekhar told IANS.