In a rare honour, New York City declared this year’s April 14 as ‘Bindeshwar Pathak Day’ in recognition of the contributions made by the Indian social activist and ‘Sulabh International’ founder for improving the lives of people engaged in the “most dehumanising situation”.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio honoured Pathak for his outstanding work to improve health and hygiene and ‘moving the world forward’.
“Pathak has been an example of someone who saw a great injustice, saw something that to many people was impractical and permanent and had the creativity, energy, drive and hope to make the change,” he said at the ceremony on April 14 attended by Pathak, 73, himself.
Pathak was presented with the New York Global Leaders Dialogue Humanitarian Award earlier this week.
The Mayor said Pathak took his vision to help the oppressed and through his work and organisation, created new technology that improved public health and environment and ‘fundamentally changed the reality’ for many communities.
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He presented Pathak with the proclamation declaring April 14, 2016 as Bindeshwar Pathak Day, honouring Pathak for being a “pioneer” in advocating for human rights in India by campaigning for social reforms and developing innovative and environmentally-sound sanitation technologies.
“This visionary humanitarian has improved quality of life for millions and increased opportunities for education and employment.
“I commend Dr Pathak for his outstanding work to improve health and hygiene, provide vocational training, promote gender equality and give dignity and hope to impoverished people in India and far beyond,” the proclamation read.
It added that Pathak’s “lifelong” dedication to championing human rights has helped break the cycle of poverty and disenfranchisement throughout India.
The mayor lauded Pathak for improving the lives of people who worked in the “most dehumanising situation” and being a catalyst of change for them.
Sulabh, which engages nearly 50,000 people, has constructed nearly 1.3 million household toilets and 54 million government toilets based on an innovative design.
Apart from construction of toilets, the organisation is leading a movement to discourage manual cleaning of human waste.