Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently received the 2019 Goalkeeper Global Goals Award from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He received the award for his government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan “Clean India Mission” program, which was launched in 2014 by the Modi National Democratic Alliance government during his first term.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan was launched to improve the lives of Indian citizens by eliminating open defecation and building toilets for the poor. The program also aims to help India achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6, which calls for sanitation and clean water for all people.
PM Modi was conferred the award by Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, at a ceremony on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in NYC.
According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Goalkeepers Global Goals Award is to recognise the progress made by India in providing safe sanitation to all citizens under his leadership.
Presently, more than 90 million toilets have been constructed in India to stop open defecation. Also, 98 per cent of Indian villages now have rural sanitation coverage against the 38 per cent of Indian villages four years ago.
PM Modi stated that Mahatma Gandhi’s dream for cleanliness is gradually becoming a reality. During his time, Gandhi always said that a village could only become a model if it is immaculate. However, now Modi is aspiring to make India a model.
Modi said that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan program has not only improved the lives of millions of Indians, but the program has also played an essential role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nation.
It was also reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) that about three hundred thousand people living in India have been saved from diseases by the program.
PM Modi added that it was personally significant for him to have received the 2019 Goalkeeper Global Goals Award in the year of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. He said where people are committed, and any challenge can be overcome.
After receiving the award, PM Modi dedicated it to the 130 crore people living in India, who transformed the program into a “people’s movement.” He said the mission wouldn’t have been a success without the people of India. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan program should serve as a model for other countries all over the world to emulate.
The Gates Foundation’s decision to confer the award on Indian PM Modi met with a critical opposition from many people, including British actors Riz Ahmed and Jameela Jamil and three Nobel Peace Prize winners – Mairead Maguire, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman, and Shirin Ebadi, who were part of those who signed a protest letter addressed to the Gates Foundation.
More than a lakh people signed a petition that stated that PM Modi does not deserve to receive the award and to have given him the award is below the moral stature and dignity and of the Gates Foundation.