The ‘blame game’ between the political parties of India has become a never-ending process. But isn’t it high time to realise that it is the commoners like us who suffer? The country is not only facing problems on an international basis but is also facing a crisis when one peeps into the core of it.
The Parasitic issue: Linking economy and Swacchta
Unsanitary conditions are not only affecting the numbers of country’s GDP but are also adversely affecting the lifestyle of people. Our government brought forth the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign in a bid to eradicate the issue of uncleanliness but it is proving to a futile exercise as is evident by the deplorable condition of public places in the country.
In a recent report, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu revealed that the lack of sanitary conditions in India causes a loss of 6 percent GDP every year. Where people are underscoring the repercussions of Demonetisation and GST leading to the downfall of GDP, this major factor needs to be brought under the limelight too. It is now well known that investing a dollar in sanitation can save a government $6-8 in costs: healthcare, mostly. The GDP under the UPA regime went below 5.7% to quote Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a recent event. Isn’t this the reason NDA government was brought to power?
True to his style, our Prime Minister appeared before a battery of cameras to sweep a courtyard in Delhi and with this trailblazing move, the Swachh Bharat programme came into existence. He even imposed a cess of 0.5 percent on all taxable services to help raise money for the campaign. Modi, in his speeches and on his social-media feeds, trumpeted the Swachh Bharat Mission to the point that it is inextricably associated with him. Much of the promotional material associated with the scheme has bolstered this connection too, aggressively deploying the prime minister’s image alongside iconography invoking Gandhi.
Statistics present a bleak picture
However, in a country where the 1 billion population aims for a better future, 72% of Indians still lack access to improved sanitation facilities. In figures, it has been estimated that nearly 525 million people practice open defecation in India. India tops the world in these numbers. The Swachhta Status Report finds that 45.3 percent households in rural areas have access to a sanitary toilet whereas, in urban areas, the figure stands at 88.8 per cent. Furthermore, as per the All India Baseline survey conducted by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2012-13, 1.39 crore of the total 7.41 crore household toilets in India were defunct or dysfunctional.
Let’s talk about Swachh Bharat
So, is the Swacch Bharat campaign really helping? To be fair enough, the pitiable condition of the sanitation infrastructure in the country is compounded by corruption as well. There is no virtual supervision when a civil work contract is given by the municipal corporation. Talking about cities, common garbage bins, where they are provided by the government, are overflowing, besides being an eyesore. Basic civic sense, which averts mindless littering and responsible disposal of waste – a prerogative of the masses is largely missing as well.
The picture of Indian economy now mirrors the distorted image of the country. Be it the collapse of industrial production, agricultural distress or the grounded issues like unsanitary conditions. One can see that the reasons for this decline have been allowed to accumulate over time which now has become a pile of red alarms. Well, it is yet to be seen if the goalpost -Eliminate Open Defecation in India by 2nd October 2019- succeeds in its true terms as promised by our Prime Minister.