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Seminar on ‘Swachh Bharat – 2019: Will Rural India Be ODF/Swachh?’

As part of the Commentary on India’s Economy and Society Series a seminar titled ‘Swachh Bharat – 2019: Will Rural India Be ODF/Swachh?,’ was delivered by Dr G Murugan, ICSSR Senior Fellow (CDS) at the Joan Robinson Hall, CDS on 8 January, 2019.

Abstract: Launched on 2nd October 2014, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is the Government of India’s (GoI) nation-wide flagship programme ideated with an objective to advance the country’s sanitation agenda. Its main aim is to reduce and subsequently eliminate open defecation through the construction of individual, cluster and community toilets and establish reliable mechanisms to monitor the latrine usage. SBM aims to achieve an open defecation free India by 2nd October 2019. It also envisages appropriate Solid and Liquid Waste Management,   Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities, Capacity building of the stakeholders, and Micro-financing of construction of toilets. Several efforts are being made by many agencies as well as the government of India and state governments to attain the target of making entire India open defecation free by 2nd Oct. 2019. Although the programme has separate components for both rural and urban settings, in this we consider the achievements and drawbacks of rural villages alone. The capabilities approach of Amartya Sen, synthesised with the New Intuitional Economics is used as the theoretical basis. A district wise analysis of the situation making use of the NFHS 4 data has been carried out in order to explore to what extent the entire country will be able to achieve the targets. This is corroborated with the monitoring information available with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation for each district as on 30-6-2018 and the same is analysed to explore to what extent it will be possible to make India open defecation free. Achievements and pit faults are looked into, and policy suggestions are made as to what corrective action can make rural India ODF at the earliest. Further implications of open defecation particularly among children are also explored making use of the NFHS 4 data, mainly to establish to what extent the nutrition among children are affected/influenced by sanitation.