Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts in bringing to the issue of sanitation to the talking table, philanthropist Bill Gates on Friday said that building toilets was only the beginning. A bigger challenge, he said, was bringing about a change in people's attitude towards sanitation.
After having stepped down as the chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates, 58, and his wife Melinda Gates, 50, have been spending their time on philanthropy. The man with a fortune of $76 billion discussed the issues of sanitation in India with Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday.
"The key topic that we'll work together on is sanitation; we agree that is super important. The attention that the minister and the Prime Minister are bringing to that topic is fantastic. Rural development and building toilets are only the beginning, getting the behaviours to change is a big challenge," Gates told TOI.
Rural development and sanitation were key areas of discussion: Bill Gates after his meeting with Nitin Gadkari pic.twitter.com/aGBIJVfpWX
— ANI (@ANI_news) September 19, 2014
After meeting finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday, Gates also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
Additionally, Gates and his wife Melinda attended discussion with author Chetan Bhagat along with students of AIIMS, IIT and Delhi School of Economics.
In an Interview with Hindustan Times on Thursday, Gates shared his vision of affordable toilets.
"Actually, making toilets either at the community or household-level and having them affordable and attractive -- which in the case of toilets imply that they don't smell badly -- that's a tough challenge," he said.
He added that Modi's government has come up with fantastic goals in sanitation and financial services. Sanitation and vaccination will be high on the agenda at his meeting with Modi on Friday, he pointed.
Last month on Independence Day, PM Modi had announced 'Clean India' or 'Swachh Bharat' Campaign, which is aimed to be completed by 2019. A day after the announcement by Modi, government received a total amount worth ₹200 crore from TCS and Bharti Airtel.
However, this campaign was declared one month after the UNICEF and WHO pointed out that 597 million people practice open defecation in India.