PM Modi To Be Honoured By Gates Foundation For Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, gestures as he speaks in Vladivostok, Russia. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

PM Modi To Be Honoured By Gates Foundation For Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

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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 to New York for the high-level United Nations General Assembly 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 the Global Goals through impactful work in their country and/or globally".

Modi will be honoured for his leadership of the Swachh Bharat Mission, which he had launched on Oct. 2, 2014.

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 Oct. 2 and currently 98 percent of India's villages have rural sanitation coverage instead of 38 percent four years ago.

The Foundation will host the fourth annual Goalkeepers 'Global Goals Awards' on Sept. 24.

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. Meanwhile, according to reports, the foundation said on Monday that Hollywood actors Jameela Jamil and Riz Ahmed are among those who have pulled out of the ceremony.

Asked for the reason of quitting to participate in the event, Jamil said she would "not be commenting" on the matter on the pretext of trolling in the form of rape and death threats.

On the other hand, Ahmed, the first Asian to win a Prime Time Emmy, is yet to make a comment.

He is known for his vocal stand against Islamophobia and racism.

In a statement to CNN, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation defended its decision to honour Prime Minister Modi, 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 the Sustainable Development Goals.

The categories are Progress, Changemaker, Campaign, Goalkeepers Voice and the Global Goalkeeper.

"These Awards tell the extraordinary stories of remarkable individuals taking action to bring the Global Goals to life and help achieve them by 2030," the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said adding that this year, Goalkeepers will focus on the challenge of fighting global inequality to ensure that no one is left behind.

In previous years, speakers at the Goalkeepers event have included former U.S. president Barack Obama, French President Emmanuel Macron, Deputy UN Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Nobel Peace Prize winners like Malala Yousafzai and Nadia Murad.

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