Look What Bill Gates Has To Say About India's Swachh Bharat Efforts At Goalkeeper's Event

India has never been known for cleanliness and sanitation. Most of the times causing embarrassment to its educated urban citizens. The sad part is India’s lack of hygiene cannot be blamed on poverty, as there are plenty of other poor or poorer countries that are lot cleaner than India. It is because of this that Prime Minister Modi as soon as he got to power launched Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan (Clean India Campaign) on 2nd October 2014. “A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150 birth anniversary in 2019,” said Shri Narendra Modi as he launched the Swachh Bharat Mission at Rajpath in New Delhi. To get the ball rolling, Modi even went ahead and publicly took up a broom and cleaned garbage from a street.   

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Since 2014, Swacch Bharat has come a long way. Over 3 crore toilets have been built across the country since then. If reports are to be believed, India’s sanitation coverage in 2012 was merely 38 per cent which has currently increased to 60.53 per cent under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious plan has got him a lot of admirers and one of them is Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, who has lauded the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for improving sanitation in the country. This is not the first time he has praised the initiative even in April 2017, Bill Gates posted a blog on his website www.gatesnotes.com, where he said, "The hard work is paying off. Today more than 30 percent of Indian villages have been declared free of open defecation, up from 8 percent in 2015."  He further wrote, "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,” Pointing out how out of the 1.7 million people worldwide who die from unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene each year, more than 600,000 deaths are from India.

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This year again, Bill Gates on behalf of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) at the Goalkeepers event in New York, that showcased efforts made to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals, praised Indian Government for its work on sanitation and hygiene calling it, "shining a light on sanitation."

India has been notoriously famous for its poor sanitation and unsafe water, which has caused 88% of childhood diarrhea and also leads to chronic malnutrition, lowered immunity and frequent and potentially fatal infections, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. But due to aggressive work on improving the health and sanitation across the number of deaths of children under five years declined to 8,02,000 in 2017 from around one million two years ago. 

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Bill Gates stepped forward to congratulate India for its accomplishment. "The Indian government is to be congratulated for putting a focus on sanitation because the malnutrition rates in India are substantially above what you’d expect, given the strong economic development that India’s had. And that means a lot in terms of kids not developing their full mental and physical capacity,” said Bill Gates.

The next step, according to him was, India must work on innovations and technology to improve sewage processing capabilities and generate zero waste. India needs to learn to process millions of tonnes of human waste which is collected from pit latrines and septic tanks and is discharged untreated into the environment. “In urban areas, simply digging a pit doesn’t work and you don’t want to dump it into the river, you want to run it through processing. So, through partners, particularly in India and China, we now have much better processing equipment,” said Gates.

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The BMGF’s Reinvent the Toilet challenge in India offered grants to innovative and financially-profitable sanitation systems with efficient bio-degradation and fecal waste management. “We are seeing more capital investment in that processing capability, we’re seeing an embrace of the new technologies to help out,” he said.

He hopes to build toilets that are affordable, self-contained (off sewage lines), designed to destroy disease-causing pathogens, and, above all, be easy to use and maintain so people want to use them. “In the long run, what we’d like is a toilet that essentially burns the waste without generating a big waste stream, but that’s in the five to ten-year time frame. In the meantime, we have to help all cities plan and make sure the sanitation is being taken care of,” he said.

Acknowledging that it is a long process and will take its own time, still feels India is on track to meet its sanitation goals.

Picture Source: Hindustan Times; Financial Express; Times Of India; swacchbharatmission.com


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