India on an Edge: Bindheshwar Pathak

Bindheshwar Pathak is an Indian sociologist and the founder of Sulabh International, an India-based social service organization which combines technical innovation with humanitarian principles and works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, non-conventional sources of energy, waste management and social reforms through education. Pathak attended University of Patna where he earned an MA in Sociology, an MA in English, a PhD. in “Liberation of scavengers through low cost sanitation” and a Doctorate of Literature in “Eradication of scavenging and environmental sanitation in India: a sociological study.” Pathak authored the book The Road to Freedom, and is a frequent participant in conferences on sanitation, health, and social progress around the world. As part of his PhD research, Pathak joined the Bhangi-Mukti (scavengers’ liberation) Cell of the Bihar Gandhi Centenary Celebrations Committee and traveled throughout India, living with scavenger families. Pathak has developed cost-effective toilet systems that have improved daily life and health for millions of people, and has waged an ongoing campaign to abolish the traditional practice of manual “scavenging” of human waste from bucket latrines in India while championing the rights of former scavengers and their families to economic opportunity, decent standards of living, and social dignity. Pathak has also made innovative use of biogas creation by linking Sulabh toilets to fermentation plants, designed over three decades ago. Besides producing odour-free bio-gas, these plants also release clean water rich in phosphorus and other ingredients which are important constituents of organic manure. Pathak is a recipient of Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award granted by the government of India recognizing distinguished service of a high order to the nation, and his name was added to UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honor in 2003. Pathak also received the Energy Globe Award, the Dubai International Award for Best Practices, the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award for Environment, and the Stockholm Water Prize.,,,

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