BINDESHWAR PATHAK

COUNTRY

India

ORGANIZATION

Sulabh International Social Service Organisation

CAUSE

Toilets / Social Inequality

With his aspirations to become a university lecturer, the last thing on 20-year old Bindeshwar Pathak’s mind was a career in sanitation. Yet, 30 years later, providing decent toilets and improving the plight of manual scavengers have become his steadfast calling.

Needless to say, his decision to pursue this path in life did not go down well with his high-status Brahmin family. But Pathak persevered, having made the leap from impassive voyeur to ardent activist after witnessing the plight of the scavengers.

His journey has been riddled with challenges: from dealing with bureaucracy and the lack of sustained funding, to tackling resistance to paradigm shifts in deep-seated societal values.

The outcome of his untiring work so far includes an innovative two-pit pour-flush compost toilet that has a seat in the sanitation hall of fame, and a suite of innovative approaches to tackle the issue of stubborn social discrimination in India.

BRIEF FACTS


BINDESHWAR PATHAK

1943

Born in village of Rampur in Bihar, India, to Dr Rama Kant Pathak and Mrs Maya Devi, both of the Brahmin Caste

1964

Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Sociology, Bih ar National College, Patna

1965

Married Amola Pathak

1968

Joined the Bihar Gandhi Centenary Celebration Committee

1970

Founded Sulabh Shauchalaya Sansthan (now known as Sulabh International Social Service Organisation)

1973

Put up the first two Sulabh Shauchalayas for demonstration in the compound of the Arrah Municipality

1974

Piloted the pay-and-use concept for public baths and community toilets in India

1978

Sulabh methodology and technology received approval from agencies like WHO, UNICEF, World Bank, and several state governments in India

1994

Started Sulabh International Museum of Toilets

2003

Started Sulabh University

 

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

1984

K. P. Goenka Memorial Award

1991

Padma Bushan Award

1992

The International Saint Francis Prize for the Environment “Canticle of All Creatures”

2000

UNCHS’ Dubai International Award for “Best Practices for Improving the Living Environment”

2003

UN-Habitat’s Scroll of Honour

UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honour Award

Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar

2008

Energy Globe’s National Energy Globe Award

World Toilet Organization’s Hall of Fame Award

2009

Stockholm Water Prize Laureate

2013

Legend of Planet Award