GS Mains Model Question & Answer: On the eve of second
anniversary of Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) assess the performance of the
flagship campaign in meeting its objectives.
Q. On the eve of second anniversary of
Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) assess the performance of the flagship campaign in
meeting its objectives. (12.5 Marks)
(General Studies Mains Paper III – Environment : Conservation,
environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)
Model Answer :
Second anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission
October 2 marks the second anniversary of the Swachh Bharat
Mission (SBM). Announcing a goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019 was a
great idea, but now that we are 40 per cent through India’s flagship sanitation
campaign, it is a good time to assess how much progress the SBM has made.
Data and Survey Methodology not credible
Unfortunately, it is impossible to answer this question because the data
simply do not exist.
Although the Swachh Survekshan Report, released recently by the Ministry of
Drinking Water and Sanitation, presents statistics claiming to report latrine
use, the survey methodology is not credible.
Surveyors did not ask a question that makes respondents feel
comfortable saying they defecate in the open, and they did not ask about the
behaviour of each individual in the household. Despite the provision of a
periodic latrine use survey in the SBM policy guidelines, we are no closer to
understanding how many people defecate in the open. In the absence of this data,
what can be used to measure progress?
Accountability Initiative recently released a budget brief
tracking SBM allocations and expenditures. They find that from fiscal year
2014-2015, when the SBM started, to fiscal year 2016-2017, allocations to SBM
more than tripled.
Sadly, most of it is going towards latrine construction, and
very little towards information, education, and communication (IEC), the
headline for behaviour-change activities. The fraction of spending on IEC has
actually fallen since the SBM started, from three per cent of total expenditure
in 2014-2015 to one per cent in 2015-2016. This is troublesome given the reasons
open defecation persists in rural India.
It is now well known that “untouchability” plays an important
role in explaining open defecation. Several studies have found that many rural
Indians associate emptying a latrine pit by hand with manual scavenging, work
that Dalits have traditionally been compelled to do.
In light of this situation, rural Indians do not want to use
the kinds of latrines that require periodic manual pit emptying, like those
promoted by the Indian government. That many rural Indians do not want the kinds
of latrines promoted by the government suggests that IEC would have to be a key
part of promoting latrine use in rural India. Unfortunately, it appears that the
little attention paid to IEC activities translates into very low awareness of
the goals of the SBM.
At its current rate of progress, the SBM is unlikely to
achieve the elimination of open defecation. There is need of change in people’s
behaviour by tackling the casteism and norms of purity and pollution that cause
open defecation to persist, this will save time, money and lives of many.