Better governance: 5 ways of looking at Swachh Bharat programme beyond the realm of sanitation

Published: August 8, 2016 5:40 PM

Swachh Bharat program can be the foundation to improve the functioning of overall systems and it should be seen beyond cleanliness and promoting sanitation programs.

Swachh Bharat, Swachh Bharat latest news, Clean India, black moneyKeeping the spirit of Swachh Bharat intact, let’s try extending Swachh Bharat beyond its realm of sanitation. (Reuters Photo)

By Sudhir Aggarwal, Vice President – Government Relations, Thomson Reuters

Swachh Bharat is possibly the noblest Government programme that has touched people from all walks of life. Quite apolitical in nature, the program aims to serve all – whether it is the rich-poor, urban-rural, or literate-illiterate – irrespective of any socio-economic factors that divide people including religion, color, geography.

The programme in the current context is quite comprehensive covering lives of people, with extensive focus on under-privileged. It explicitly focuses on the basics and fundamentals of our society. The program aims to help all with the basic necessities to improve the life style and create better livelihood. The initiative is towards cleanliness – hygiene, waste management and sanitation focuses on elimination of open defecation, eradication of manual scavenging, modern and scientific municipal solid waste management and many more related aspects.

However, it is important to look at Swachh Bharat beyond hygiene, waste management, and sanitation. The program can be the foundation to improve the functioning of overall systems and it should be seen beyond cleanliness and promoting sanitation programs. It is about doing things in a right way which can help the economy grow in the right direction. Keeping the spirit of Swachh Bharat intact, let’s try extending Swachh Bharat beyond its realm of sanitation.

Corruption Free State

Corruption has always been a major concern for our country. The Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) has ranked India 76 out of 168 countries in its 2015 Corruption Perception Index. India has become a breeding ground for corruption. Starting from an individual to large institutions – all have engaged in some kind of corruption. It has become significantly important to find a solution to this cancer before it reaches incurability. While some have taken the initiative to fight against corruption, there is an immediate requirement of structural change for good governance and measures that may help the society overcome the terror of infectious surrounding. Though, Swachh Bharat is started showing initial and positive signs in cleaning up the air, there is still a long way to make India a “corruption free” nation. The responsibility of curbing fraud and cultivating India as a corruption free country does not lie only with Swachh Bharat or Government or any other independent body but also with us as it citizens.

Cleaning of Books

The passing of Bankruptcy Bill recently is a noteworthy effort by the Government. Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) report mentions that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has indicated on the impact of corporates’ weak balance sheets on the financial system and a need closer monitoring. Bad assets and mounting NPAs need to be in control as the sector demands a “Swacch” and stable system.

Cleanliness of Systems and Processes

Swachh Bharat is a highly ambitious programme. It is critical to focus on strengthening the processes and systems through continuous review and reforms. Initiation of AQR (Asset Quality Review) exercise by RBI aims at enhancing the transparency which will help in identifying the problem. This will help the regulator to take corrective measures and assure all the stakeholders on banks fundamentals and trustworthiness.

Swachh Bharat is further comprehended with Digital India, comprising of various initiatives and each targeted to prepare India for becoming a knowledge economy and for bringing Good Governance to citizens through synchronized and coordinated engagement of the entire Government. To extend the discussions on cleanliness of systems through administrative reforms like:

  • Minimum Government Maximum governance through optimal exploitation of Technology-Data-Managed services (taking Government to the people)
  • ‘Reach the Unreached’ through programs like JAM (Jan-Dhan-Yojana Aadhaar Mobility)
  • Early warning signs to make systems & processes intelligent proactively, self-monitoring & enhancing the effectiveness of the processes
  • Digital India sets the tone and is possibly the most comprehensive programmes to ensure continuous simplification of the processes and systems with enhanced transparency, accountability, and effectiveness towards constituting ‘ONE Government’.

As a nation we must understand that the bigger responsibility of ‘Swachh Bharat’ is to deal with corruption, black money, tax evasion, inefficiencies and lack of accountability. These are cancerous reflections of our society in our systems, processes, and procedures. Such issues deal with certain aspects such as – mind, thoughts, greed, provisions and loopholes in the system including (and not limited to) discretion. The solution here would be eradication of such negative thought processes by stricter norms and cleaner systems. Skill India could be one biggest differentiator programme in this journey of change.

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