Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Wednesday conferred the 'Global Goalkeeper' award by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan'. He was given the award by Bil Gates. Accepting the award, PM Modi said he shared the honour with crores of Indians who had contributed to the success of the cleanliness mission.
"This honour is not mine but of the crores of Indians who not only fulfilled the Swachh Bharat dream but also made it a part of their daily lives," he said. PM Modi added that when 130 crore people take a pledge, any challenge can be overcome.
PM Modi said that getting the award in the year of Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary was personally significant for him.
"I am happy that Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of sanitation and cleanliness is now being fulfilled," he said.
The prestigious award, part of the Goalkeepers Global Goal Awards, is given every year to a world leader for achievement in a specific SDG (Sustainable Development Goal). President Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia and Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway are amongst some of the previous winners.
Talking about the scheme, PM Modi said, "In last five years more than 11 crore toilets were constructed. If this mission has benefited someone the most it is the poor of this country and the women."
"The Swacch Bharat campaign has benefitted women the most; it was one of the biggest problems for the women and daughters. They used to wait for evening to go out to defecate. Many girls had to stop studying due to lack of a toilet in schools. It was the responsibility of my government to tackle this problem and we did it with sincerity," he added.
"I have been told that in a report of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation it was found that in India heart problems in children have decreased and there has been improvement in Body Mass Index of women due to better rural sanitation."
He also said that Swacch Bharat mission has also opened a door for economic development in rural areas.
"I am happy that due to the cleanliness survey, there is a competition among states to make the grade in it," he said.
PM Modi said that India wanted to share its experience and expertise in cleanliness drive with other countries. He also talked about the 'Fit India Movement' saying India aims to eradicate TB from India by 2025.
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched by the Modi government during its first term on October 2, 2014. The ambitious scheme aims at accelerating the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage in the country by this year as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.
So far, 90 million toilets have been built to eliminate open defecation by October 2, 2019, and currently, 98 per cent of India’s villages have rural sanitation coverage instead of 38 per cent four years ago.
This is the fourth annual Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards. The annual awards, in five categories, are presented to leaders and individuals for their efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The categories are Progress, Changemaker, Campaign, Goalkeepers Voice and the Global Goalkeeper.
"These Awards tell the extraordinary stories of remarkable individuals taking action to bring the Global Goals to life and help achieve them by 2030," the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said. This year’s Goalkeepers focus on the challenge of fighting global inequality to ensure that no one is left behind.