By Jimoh Babatunde – New York
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and three others were yesterday in New York conferred with the ‘Global Goalkeepers Award’ by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with the ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ for the Clean India Mission called Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, launched by his government.
Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, co-hosted the annual Goalkeepers events to highlight the remarkable progress toward the reduction of extreme poverty, and the need to accelerate efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals.)
They were joined by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed; UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore, and British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.
The other awardees were youth activist, Payal Jangid, for her fight against child labor and child marriage in India, while Gregory Rockson, co-founder and CEO of mPharma, was given the Progress Award for his work to increase access to high-quality drugs across community pharmacies in five African countries.
The Campaign Award was presented to Aya Chebbi, the first African Union Youth Envoy, for her work promoting youth empowerment, peacebuilding, and non-violent mobilization in Africa.
Speaking during the presentation said he shared the honour with his countrymen and dedicated the award to those Indians who transformed the Swachh Bharat campaign into a “people’s movement”.
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“No such campaign was seen or heard about in any other country in the recent past. It might have been launched by our government, but people took control of it,” Modi said.
Stressing that the success of the campaign could not be measured in numbers, the prime minister said the poor people and the women of India were benefitted the most by it.
Due to lack of toilets, a number of girls had to drop out of schools. Our daughters want to study, but because of lack of toilets, they had to abandon their education mid-way and sit at home,” PM Modi added.
Modi said he was told that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had also reported that as rural sanitation had improved in India, it had led to a decline in heart problems among children and improvement in the Body Mass Index (BMI) among women.
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, the PM said.
“The campaign has not only improved the lives of crores of Indians, but it has also played a significant role in achieving the goals set by the UN,” Modi said.
The cleanliness campaign was launched by the Modi government during its first term on October 2, 2014.