PM Modi is going to be honoured by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the 24th and 25th of this month, wherein he would be bestowed with the Goalkeepers Global Goals Award. The move was influenced by the fact that the Modi government has worked to provide sanitation to at least 500 million people.
Asked to comment by NPR (National Public Radio), the foundation provided this statement, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi is receiving an award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of its drive toward achievement of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals."
"Before the Swachh Bharat mission, over 500 million people in India did not have access to safe sanitation, and now, the majority do," wrote the Gates Foundation to NPR in a statement.
Since 2014, PM Modi's Swachh Bharat Mission has worked to eliminate open defecation and promote cleanliness and hygiene in rural areas. According to Swachh Bharat Mission's website, the project has built over 10 crores (10,03,26,950) toilets and close to 6 lac (5,99,963) villages have been designated as "open defecation free". This reflects the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, with 2030 as a target date. Open defecation is directly connected with the incidence of diarrheal diseases.
The Gates Foundation, by focusing on working with the government and achieving the Swachh Bharat goal, states on its website, "The government’s deep political commitment and focus on the ongoing Swacch Bharat Mission present a historic opportunity; we are partnering closely with both rural and urban ministries to help accelerate the progress of this effort."
Apart from unprecedented progress in the Swachh Bharat mission, the Modi government has also taken steps to use digital technology to improve people, especially, the lives of women. In the annual Goalkeepers Examining Inequality 2019 report, the Foundation elaborates on the policy reforms in the country that are not only "improving government services for the poor but also chipping away at the foundations of male supremacy."
The report states, "Few countries have been as innovative and thoughtful about using digital technology to make people’s lives better as India. The government understood early on that technology made it possible to connect directly with citizens instead of working through layers and layers of bureaucracy. Then it started creating smart policies built around digital technology that improved both the quality and reach of government services."
Arshi Aadil, an expert on digital financial inclusion wrote on how the government's JAM trinity (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and Mobile Phones) "helped the government of India design a series of innovative policies that have empowered 75 million marginalized women," with respect to the cooking gas subsidy.
In the past, Bill Gates has acknowledged and praised PM Modi's efforts to provide healthcare to the poor in the country, through the government's Ayushman Bharat scheme. He had congratulated the Indian government after the first 100 days of Ayushman Bharat as close to 685000 beneficiaries had availed free health care through the program.