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Bill Gates breaks silence on awarding Modi for Swachh Bharat; says others must learn from India

FE Online
Global Goalkeeper, Global Goalkeeper award, PM Modi, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Melinda Gates, bill gates, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, cleanliness mission, india news

Microsoft founder and currently the world's richest man Bill Gates recently defended his decision to award Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his ambitious Swachh Bharat Mission. "It is very brave of the Prime Minister to talk about the sanitation problem and he set ambitious goals for improving those. We thought that was praiseworthy because we are very involved in sanitation," Bill Gates told Times Now in an interview. He added that other countries should also follow India's example of solving the issue while acknowledging that a lot more still needs to be done. Bill Gates had conferred the 'Global Goalkeeper' award to Prime Minister in September following which, he had to face backlash from nobel prize laureates, activists and philanthropist communities.

"Under Prime Minister Modi's leadership, India has descended into dangerous and deadly chaos that has consistently undermined human rights, democracy. This is particularly troubling to us as the stated mission of your foundation is to preserve life and fight inequity," Mairead Maguire, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman, and Shirin Ebadi, three Nobel Peace Laureates said in a letter written to Bill and Melinda Gates.

The Gates foundation awarded Narendra Modi for the BJP government's flagship Swachh Bharat Mission; a one-of-kind scheme in the world to eliminate open-defecation. The country was declared open-defecation free in 2019. The government said that about nine crore toilets in rural India were built before the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the scheme has over achieved its target. "What I love most about Clean India is that it identified a big problem, got everyone working on it, and is using measurement to show where things need to be done differently," Bill Gates said earlier in a Gates note dated April 2017. For the Gates foundation, the significance of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan emanates from the fact that the organisation itself is pioneering the sanitation cause. 

As the scheme got completed in 2019, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced further objectives for Swachh Bharat Mission in Union Budget 2019. "I now propose to expand the Swachh Bharat Mission to undertake sustainable solid waste management in every village," she said. The government has also announced its target of using waste to generate energy by leveraging advancements in technology.