Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the prestigious Global Goalkeeper Award for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan which he had started on October 2, 2014.
The cleanliness campaign, launched on Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, was well-received by Indians and PM Modi's efforts were recognized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
On Wednesday Microsoft founder, Bill Gates presented the award to PM Modi in New York.
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What is the Global Goalkeeper Award?
An initiative by the Gates Foundation, the Goalkeeper Award seeks to bring world leaders together to "accelerate progress for ending poverty and fighting inequality". The award celebrates a leader who "demonstrated their commitment to the Global Goals through impactful work in their country and/or globally".
After receiving award, PM Modi dedicated it to Indians
Humbled by the award, PM Modi dedicated it to Indians.
"This honor 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," he said after receiving the award.
He said more than 11 crore toilets were constructed in the last five years, benefiting women the most.
Everyone worked to improve cleanliness: PM Modi
I dedicate the Global Goalkeeper Award, conferred by the @gatesfoundation, to the 130 crore people of India and the collective endeavours of our nation to improve cleanliness.
Girls quit studies due to lack of toilets: PM Modi
Speaking of the problems women faced earlier, PM Modi said, "They used to wait for the evening to go out to defecate. Many girls had to drop out of school due to the lack of a toilet in schools."
He added his government took it upon itself to make lives of women better and fulfilled the promise quite earnestly.
PM Modi revealed why this award is special for him
Further, PM Modi said Mahatma Gandhi's dream for cleanliness is finally coming true. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly three lakh people were saved from diseases due to this campaign, he underscored adding that something like this was unheard of.
"Getting the award in the year of Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary is personally significant for me," he went on.
He said his government changed how India functioned
"India had only seen constitutional federalism for decades. Our government made an effort to change it to cooperative federalism. I am happy that through Swachh Survekshan (cleanliness survey), India's states now compete with each other for higher ranking in cleanliness," he said.
Apart from cleanliness, India has taken many other initiatives
Further, PM Modi also spoke about the other initiatives his government has taken, most of which are linked to behavioral changes.
"India is close to achieving its sanitation target, but we are also working steadfastly on other missions as well. 'Through Fit India' movement, we are promoting fitness and preventive health care," he revealed.
Soon, India will also bid adieu to single-use plastic.