Shahrukh Khan and Vidya Balan will come together, not to promote a commercial venture, but to act as brand ambassadors to fight open defecation, propagate sanitation and appeal to the people to get clean.

Idea broached

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who also holds the portfolio of drinking water and sanitation, has broached the idea with the actors, and their response has been positive.

Mr. Ramesh has said he will pursue the idea of roping in Shahrukh Khan and Vidya Balan for a massive communication programme for the success of the total sanitation campaign to make the people use toilets.

The latest census report points out that more people in India use mobile phones than toilets; about 50 per cent of the population still defecate in the open.

India accounts for 60 per cent of the world population that practises open defecation.

Greater visibility

The aim, Mr. Ramesh says, is to give greater visibility to the sanitation programme. The budgetary outlay for the programme during the current fiscal has been increased to Rs.14,000 crore.

The Ministry has already brought in Sachin Tendulkar, and now Mr. Ramesh intends to cash in on the fan following of Shahrukh Khan and Vidya Balan, who is said to be topping the popularity charts.

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