indica News Bureau-
Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India and Payal Jangid were honored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that “Works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives” at the annual Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards celebration held on Sept. 24 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Prime Minister Modi was honored at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards for the progress India is making in improving sanitation through the Swachh Bharat mission. Jangid, a 17-year-old girl from Rajasthan, India, has received the Changemaker Award in recognition of her campaign against child labor and child marriage.
The Gates Foundation’s fourth annual Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards to celebrate outstanding work around the world is directly linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals).
According to the foundation, before the Swachh Bharat mission, over 500 million people in India did not have access to safe sanitation, and now, the majority do.
During Modi’s acceptance speech he said that although the Swachh Bharat mission was started by his government, the people took charge of it. “I think of the woman who sold her sheep to build a toilet, of the retired man who donated his pension for a toilet, or the lady who sold her mangalsutra to build a toilet. Such a campaign has been unheard of in recent times.”
It shows people’s power of the determination of 1.3 billion people to achieve any goal.
He said when he started the Swachh Bharat mission five years ago, there were “different reactions but if you are committed to your goal then these are of no importance.”
“What is important is the united efforts to make India clean and the development of a mindset in 1.3 billion Indians, and every single effort that people make for this I, therefore, dedicate this award to those who made cleanliness the highest priority in their daily lives,” he said.
When he took over in 2014, less than 40 percent of homes had toilets in the country, and now it is close to 100 percent.
He said the success of the Clean India mission has benefited women the most, especially in rural areas, where women had to wait for it to get dark to venture to the fields to relieve themselves. “For mothers and sisters, not having a toilet at home is the biggest difficulty, it also goes against their self-respect,” the Prime Minister said.
He said that the lack of toilets in schools would force girls to give up their studies and sit at home.
He said the Clean India Mission has also helped save thousands of lives, citing a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) that said building toilets in homes helped save 300,000 lives. He cited a UNICEF study that said that every family with a toilet will be able to save Rs 50,000 a year.
“I recall that Mahatma Gandhi said he believes that cleanliness is more important than independence. I am very happy that the dream of Mahatma Gandhi of cleanliness is going to become a reality.”
He said the main objective of the UN is to make people’s lives better and the Clean India Campaign plays an important role in achieving the UN’s goal.
He said that the construction of so many toilets had also generated employment opportunities for poor people in rural areas.
“I have complete faith in 1.3 billion Indians,” Modi said.
Another awardee, Jangid, a resident of Thanagaazi in the Alwar district in Rajasthan, India, and daughter of a farmer shared in a video where she reveals how she had to fight her own family who wanted her to get married at a young age.
Jangid is associated with Kailash Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and has also worked as a jury member with The World’s Children’s Prize (WCP), she shared how she united children from several villages across the state who went door-to-door to raise awareness about issues such as child education and the dangers of child marriage.
“My campaign had many tasks such as organizing rallies, putting up posters and interacting with people about the issues, said Jangid, adding that each child in society should get an education and a chance to move forward.
Nobel prize winner, Kailash Satyarthi praising Jangid’s effort tweeted, “Sumedha ji and I are so proud & moved to watch our daughter Payal receiving Changemaker Award from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation now in New York. She refused her marriage and her entire village was free from child marriages & labor.”
In the video, her father, Pappuram Jangid, said that the number of child marriages has decreased over the years as Payal brought significant improvement; kids have started going to school now and not even a single child marriage has been reported in their village in the last 10 years.