Prime Minister Narendra Modi was honoured with the ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ by the Founder of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates. It was awarded for India’s progress in the ‘Swacch Bharat Mission’ at New York on Wednesday (IST). While accepting the award, the PM said he shared the honour with crores of Indians who had contributed to the success of the cleanliness mission.
The Global Goals Awards are annual awards by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which are presented to leaders and individuals for their relentless efforts in achieving the universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as proposed by the United Nations. "These awards tell the extraordinary stories of remarkable individuals taking action to bring the Global Goals to life and help achieve them by 2030," read the foundation website for this year's awards. Prior to the Indian Prime Minister, the previous winners have been Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway and former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The Swacch Bharat Mission was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014, in honour of Mahatma Gandhi to make people realise the importance of sanitation. Under the project, the Indian government built over 100 million toilets and provided around 98% of Indian villages with free toilets. In an official statement, the Gates Foundation commended the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and said that it can serve as a model for other countries.
"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," PM Modi said after receiving the award. "In the last five years, a record more than 11 crore toilets were constructed," PM Modi said, adding, "If this mission has benefited someone the most it is the poor of this country and the women."
Bill Gates before presenting the Global Goalkeeper honour to PM Modi explained how the sanitation problems have been affecting many countries in the world. He said, “We hear a lot about Malaria, and we should because it's devastating and we are making progress. But sanitation-related illnesses kill more kids every year than Malaria does. In 2014, PM Narendra Modi announced ‘Swacch Bharat Mission’ - a program with a very ambitious goal to eliminate open defecation in India. Before the project, the government estimated that more than half a billion people have been defecating in open. But today, just five years later, thanks to the leadership, of hundreds and thousands of people and communities across India, the vast majority now has access to safe sanitation. This progress is very critical for achieving SDG-6 (Sustainable Development Goals) for water and sanitation which is lagging far behind. While there is still more work to do, to sustain this progress, in the long run, we are already seeing the life-saving impact. India’s ‘Swacch Bharat Mission’ is already serving as a model for other countries around the world that urgently need to improve their access to safe sanitation. That’s why today I am pleased to be presenting the ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ to PM Narendra Modi for the progress that India is making in improving sanitation.”