Dr Bindheshwar Pathak is a prominent Indian social reformer who has devoted his life to improve the working conditions of one of India’s most discriminated communities of manual scavengers. He is the founder of Sulabh International, a national NGO promoting clean toilets across India. Sulabh toilet complexes could be found in many cities of India, particularly at busy tourist sites. He invented dual-pit toilets that use little water compared to traditional flush toilets and provide odour free compost that could be used in farming.
Dr Bindeshwar Pathak on giving shape to Gandhi’s dream of Sawachh Bharat
Dr Bindeshwar Pathak first came to understand the plight of scavengers in 1968 when he joined the Bhangi-Mukti (scavengers’ liberation) Cell of the Bihar Gandhi Centenary Celebrations Committee. During that time, he travelled throughout India, living with scavenger families as part of his Ph.D. research. Drawing on that experience, he resolved to take action, not only out of sympathy for the scavengers but also in the belief that scavenging is a dehumanizing practice that would ultimately have a destructive impact on modern Indian society.
He established the Sulabh International Social Service Organization in 1970, combining technical innovation with humanitarian principles. The organization works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, non-conventional sources of energy, waste management and social reforms through education. He has made innovative use of biogas creation by linking Sulabh toilets to fermentation plants, he had designed over three decades ago and which are now becoming a byword for sanitation in developing countries all over the world. His sanitation movement ensures cleanliness and prevents greenhouse gas emission.
Dr Bindeshwar Pathak on obstacles in the way of Sulabh movement