Prime Minister Modi’s work is finally getting international recognition and rightly so. Earlier this year, PM Modi was conferred with the ‘Order of Zayed’ – which is the top civilian honour of the United Arab Emirates. Prime Minister Modi on his visit to Bahrain was bestowed with the King Hamad Order of the Renaissance by Bahraini King in recognition of New Delhi’s strong friendship with the Gulf nation and his efforts to strengthen bilateral ties. As he prepares to address the United Nations General Assembly later this year, he is all set to be honoured by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the United States later this month, for his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the clean India initiative which was launched during his first term as the Prime Minister.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an ode to the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary on October 2, 2014, and Prime Minister Modi himself, on numerous occasions has gone out to clean the streets to send a message about the importance of cleanliness. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has delivered rich results for the country and according to government estimates, over 89% of houses in villages have access to sanitary toilets. In 2017 itself, the number of people in rural India practising open defecation has come down from 550 million to 320 million. Modi government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been a roaring success and the numbers are a testament to that. The scope of hygiene has gone up from just 40% to 98% and the government has built 10 crore toilets in just 5 years. A whopping 5,00,000 villages across 600 districts have been declared Open Defecation Free. Seventeen states and Union Territories (UTs) are now Open Defecation Free and out of the remaining 16, another three are almost ODF (>90%) and six are more than 85% ODF.
While the detractors of the Narendra Modi government will claim that the numbers are too good to be true, an independent survey of 92,000 households across India which was supervised by representatives from the UNICEF and the World Bank found that 96% of the villages declared ODF were indeed open defecation free and 77% of the households surveyed had toilets which was consistent with the official estimate of 76% at the time of the survey. One of the biggest question marks on the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was whether the toilets built by the government were indeed functional and being used. According to the National Sample Survey Office, of the people who had access to toilets, 93% of the population was found to use them regularly.
The success of the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan lies in the monumental numbers behind it and the mission has extensively partnered with the UNICEF to penetrate the rural households in a bid to make India Open Defecation Free. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation realise the efforts of the Modi government and the challenge undertaken to clean and sanitise the second most populous country in the World.