Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to honour PM Modi for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be presented with the 2019 Global Goalkeeper Award, a 'special recognition' that celebrates a political leader who has "demonstrated their commitment to Global Goals through impactful work in their country or globally'.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be honoured with the prestigious Global Goalkeeper Award next week by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his leadership and commitment to improve access to sanitation in India.
The prime minister will also address global leaders and corporate executives at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum during his visit for the high-level UN General Assembly (UNGA) session.
Modi will be presented with the 2019 'Global Goalkeeper Award', which, according to the Foundation, is a "special recognition" that celebrates a political leader who has "demonstrated their commitment to Global Goals through impactful work in their country and/or globally".
Modi will be honoured for his leadership of the Swachch Bharat Mission, which he had launched on October 2, 2014. The Foundation will host the fourth annual Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards on September 24.
The ambitious mission aims at accelerating the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage in the country by this year as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.
So far, 90 million toilets have been built to eliminate open defecation by October 2, 2019, and currently 98 percent of India's villages have rural sanitation coverage instead of 38 percent four years ago.
But a group of prominent South Asian Americans, who say they are "allies in philanthropy", have written an open letter criticising the award and urging the Foundation to withdraw it, citing concerns over his human rights record since Modi came to power in 2014, CNN reported.
Foundation defends decision
In a statement to CNN, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation defended its decision, saying: "Before the Swachh Bharat mission, over 500 million people in India did not have access to safe sanitation, and now, the majority do. There is still a long way to go, but the impacts of access to sanitation in India are already being realised."
"The Swachh Bharat mission can serve as a model for other countries around the world that urgently need to improve access to sanitation for the world's poorest."
The annual awards, in five categories, are presented to leaders and individuals for their efforts in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The categories are Progress, Changemaker, Campaign, Goalkeepers Voice, and Global Goalkeeper.
"These awards tell the extraordinary stories of remarkable individuals taking action to bring Global Goals to life and help achieve them by 2030," the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said, adding that this year Goalkeepers would focus on the challenge of fighting global inequality to ensure that no one was left behind.
In previous years, speakers at the Goalkeepers event have included former US president Barack Obama, French President Emmanuel Macron, Deputy UN Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Nobel Peace Prize winners like Malala Yousafzai and Nadia Murad.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)