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More Than 280M Lives Already Impacted One Year After Global Citizen Festival India

By Swati Kumar and Katie Dallas

Almost exactly a year ago today, Global Citizen India — a partnership between Global Citizen and tGELF — hosted Global Citizen Festival India. With performances from Coldplay, Jay Z, Amitabh Bachchan, and Vidya Balan and another two dozen Bollywood actors who hosted the evening, the 80,000+ crowd enjoyed a night like no other. Yet it was not simply the pop power and spectacle that made it a night to remember, Global Citizen India was a milestone moment in the fight against poverty.  

In response to over 2 million actions by Global Citizens in the run up to the festival,  government and corporate leaders announced 26 commitments on the stage toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 (Quality Education, Gender Equality and Clean Water & Sanitation, respectively). These pledges are set to affect the lives of 516 million people, and that we have been continuously tracking to ensure every single one of those people are reached. And today, we bring you the latest accountability report, to see who is holding their promises to the world’s poorest, a year on from the festival.

We can officially say that we are over 54% toward impacting the 516 million lives set to be affected by 2030. With particular progress made on all commitments pertaining to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat or ‘Clean up India’ Campaign, which seeks to end open defecation in the country by 2019.

Progress has been made beyond sanitation too; a clear example is HP’s confirmation that they are on track with their commitment at Global Citizen Festival India to provide 48 mobile classrooms through an investment of USD 3.6 million (INR 24.8 crores), set to affect 15 million people in rural areas of India getting access to quality education and technology over six years (November 2022).

The report provides details of all 26 commitments, their progress to date, as well as a traffic light summary of progress and finds that of all these commitments:

  • 1 has exceeded its target
  • 1 is completed on target
  • 16.5 are on-track to be fully delivered, or to exceed their initial goals
  • 5 are proceeding with some risk
  • 1 is off track (with another a mixture of on track and too soon to tell)
  • 1.5  are too early to tell, with future reports to contain further updates
  • 0 commitments have been abandoned.

Overall, the report finds that we are 54.52% toward impacting the 516.51 million lives set to be affected by 2030 achieved by Global Citizen India's commitments and announcements made since 2016. We also confirm that at least INR 3044 crores (USD 447.67 million) has been confirmed as raised or disbursed toward commitments worth INR 43,416 crores (USD 6.38 billion) which is 7.01% of target. In other words, this is important progress, but by no means is it enough. We must continue to hold leaders to account to their commitments for a fairer world.

You can read the full report here - or read on for key findings.

Behavior change

Making commitments or implementing programs is not enough; long-lasting and impactful change can only happen when it is ingrained in each and every member of society. Our actions last year around menstrual hygiene, gender stereotypes, and sexual consent were aimed at bringing about this kind of internal change. According to the Social Analytics Report conducted by IBM, conversation concerning menstrual hygiene on social media increased considerably after the launch of our action journey (#Boo2Taboo) focusing on menstrual hygiene. The number of digital conversations on menstrual hygiene, which IBM tracked on social media, increased from 1,363 to 33,799, approximately by 2,300 percent. According to the report, negative sentiment around menstruation decreased by more than half within this space due to the GCI campaign around it.

The Government’s Swachh Bharat Mission has also been shifting its focus from merely building toilets toward changing mindsets on sanitation issues as a whole (including open defecation, waste management, etc.). This was also one of the key takeaways from the National Consultation on Rural Sanitation held in New Delhi on October ( and the entire sector is demonstrating responsibility in holding the Open Defecation Free India initiative accountable. WaterAid, for instance, has developed and is implementing a comprehensive list of criteria with which to assess ODF, and the Government is working in consultation with groups such as TARU Leading Edge.

Whether it’s waste segregation at source or adoption of green technology — even the simple act of washing hands before and after using the toilet — these all require a change of mindset and collective social behaviour. In 2018, we will look at developing more behavior change campaigns. We are also developing ways of measuring their impact to ensure the effectiveness of any arising commitments can be held accountable. Communications and outreach partnerships will be important in designing these campaigns.

Political Climate

Nine states are due for elections in 2017-18 and there are predictions that the national general elections will be held towards the end of 2018. Given the shifting political climate, the ongoing monitoring of existing commitments will be essential, and we hope to see continued progress to further what has already been achieved thus far. This will also affect campaigning for new issues and commitments, and presents an opportunity to campaign for cross-party support for the Goals upon which we focus.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Given the complexity and diversity of Indian society, innovation is critical to India’s socio-economic development. The current government is realizing this and has established the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), which endeavours to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by providing a platform for the generation and sharing of innovative ideas, alongside an incubator to mentor and support innovators. In November 2017, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit is being held in Hyderabad to bring together entrepreneurship talent, investors and startup ecosystems from across the globe to innovate the world’s most exciting solutions. Global Citizen India is part of the Road to GES events which will create a buzz for entrepreneurship among college campuses in the country. This presents an opportunity to highlight and spread innovations in the realm of menstrual hygiene management, education technology and more, as well as empower women and minority entrepreneurs. The convergence between this focus on innovation and entrepreneurship in such a dynamic country and the existing efforts around the UN Sustainable Development Goals presents an opportunity for enhanced and impressive leaps to take place. We look forward to engaging this mindset in our activities for 2018, and follow on from commitments such as that of the Toilet Board Coalition at Global Citizen Festival India 2016, promising innovative solutions to the world’s sanitation problems.


Global Citizen India, like the rest of Global Citizen, is transitioning toward routine year round data collection of accountability information, and away from a six monthly data capture and reporting cycle. This will enable us to keep closer to live data, and better fit with our partners’ data collection, monitoring and evaluation processes. In the process of collecting information for this report, our partners have been able to gather, and Global Citizen has been able to far more easily access data regarding the number of lives impacted to data against the commitments made, than the amounts of money disbursed or raised, in what has been a pressured timeframe. We believe that by our next report in March, we will be able to demonstrate an accurate picture of the funds disbursed to date, and in the longer run, the revised accountability approach will be much fairer for our partners in our ask for this information too.