Microsoft CEO Bill Gates on Wednesday while presenting the Global goalkeeper award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his 'Swachh Bharat Mission', explained how Swachh Bharat' mission is critical for achieving SDG 6 (Sustainable development goal). He praised the Prime Minister's efforts in making India open-defecation free. Gates presented the award to PM Modi for helping people live in better living conditions and taking forward the sustainable development goal and India's fight against single-use plastic.
"This progress is critical to achieving STG 6 for water and sanitation, which is lagging far behind. while there is still more progress to do for achieving this goal in the long run but we've already seen the life-saving impact," said Gates while presenting the award to PM Modi.
He added how India's mission against open defecation is serving as a model for other countries, "India's Swachh Bharat mission is already serving as a model for other countries around the world that urgently need to improve access to safe sanitation," he said.
Bill Gates spoke about how sanitation-related illnesses kill more children every year than Malaria. "We hear a lot about malaria and we should, because it's devastating and we're making progress but,sanitation-related illnesses kill more kids every year than malaria does," he said.
Bill Gates on 'Swachh Bharat'
He further spoke about the mission and its importance, saying. "In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 'Swachh Bharat Mission, a programme with a very ambitious goal of eliminating open defecation in India. Before the programme, the government noted that more than half a million people were defecating in the open. But today, nearly five years later, thanks to the leadership, hundreds and thousands of communities in India, the vast majority now has access to safe sanitation."
A short movie about the overview of the 'Swachh Bharat' mission was also played at the event and was voiced by none other than movie star Amitabh Bachhan. The movie highlighted the achievements and impact of the mission. The movie showed that 6,00,000 villages in India are now open defecation free and 600 million people have stopped open defecation. 307,000 diarrhoeal deaths have been avoided and 12.7 times less groundwater contamination was traced back to humans in villages.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke extensively of the Swachh Bharat initiative while accepting the award and how it revolutionised the rural sanitation scenario. He also said that the fact that he received the prestigious award on Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday made it even more special for him, he also pointed out how the Father of the Nation had long envisioned 'Swachh' India. “Gandhiji used to say a village could only become a model when it was completely clean. Today we are heading towards making the entire country a model,” he said.
Addressing the gathering at the event, PM Modi dedicated the award to the Indians who made cleanliness their priority during their day-to-day lives. The Prime Minister asserted that with the efforts of the people of India, a record number of toilets have been built in the country since the launch of the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan'. He added it is the determination of 130 crore Indians who made sure the campaign become a success.