Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday declared that India is now open defecation-free, adding the country's stature is on the rise on the world stage.
Making the remarks at two separate public events, Modi also said a glimpse of the respect India has globally was seen during the 'HowdyModi' event in Houston.
Speaking at an event organised by BJP's state unit to felicitate him for his speech at the UN General Assembly, Modi said the world can see that India is at the forefront of several positive changes taking place globally.
"Respect for India is increasing all over. One can experience the change," he added.
"The strength and the value of Indian passport has increased. The world sees those holding Indian passport with respect," Modi said.
Modi said the recent 'HowdyModi' event in the US has become a talking point among world leaders he met after that programme.
"The fact that US President Donald Trump came to the Indian event and stayed there for such a long time was great.
After speeches, when I requested him, he came for a round of stadium without considering security protocol. I thank him and all those who organised the event," Modi said.
"In a way, the world is looking at India with great eagerness. The world was curious about India, a huge country with a vibrant democracy and it is hopeful that India's participation will be most significant whenever there are opportunities to bring about global changes," he said.
Speaking at the 'Swachh Bharat Diwas' programme in Ahmedabad in the evening, Modi said, "Today rural India and its villages have declared themselves 'open defecation-free'."
Modi made the declaration by pressing the button of a remote, unveiling the map of India as open defection-free.
"Today the whole world is appreciating and awarding us (for) providing toilets to over 60 crore people in 60 months by building over 11 crore toilets. The world is amazed by this," Modi said.
"However, this achievement is just a milestone and we should not stop here. The movement has to continue," he said.
Modi said sanitation, conservation of environment and animals were dear to Gandhiji. "Plastic is a major threat to all of them, so we have to achieve the goal to eradicate 'single-use plastic' from the country by 2022," he said.
"Today, rural India has declared itself open defection-free. This is a great achievement of the Swachh Bharat movement which has people's participation," Modi said, addressing village heads of 20,000 villages in the country.
"On the call of Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom movement, people of the country mobilised for 'satyagarah' and they did the same now for swachhagrah, Modi said.
Earlier, Modi paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at the Sabarmati Ashram on his 150th birth anniversary.
He also penned his thoughts in the visitors' book.
"I'm satisfied that on the occasion of #GandhiAt150, we're witnessing the fulfillment of his dream of 'Swachh Bharat'. I feel lucky that on this occasion when India has successfully stopped open defecation, I'm here at the ashram," Modi wrote.
Gandhi established the Ashram in 1917 after his return from South Africa and stayed there till 1930.
Modi also released commemorative Rs 150 coins on occasion of Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary.