By Gopal Goswami,
The most underappreciated success of the Narendra Modi government has been the revolutionary elemental shift in the thinking of Indian households that basic sanitation is what every one of them should have in order to live a safe, happy, and healthy life with self-respect, particularly for women. Before 2016, there were several headlines in newspapers and on television channels about rapes while defecating in public from all across the country. Indian girls, particularly those from rural backgrounds, who account for more than 65 percent of the population, were forced to defecate in open fields. The “Swatccha Bharat Mission” was the first major initiative to emerge from his closet after coming to power in 2014.
Following the launch of the Swatch Bharat Mission in 2014, India underwent a revolution in toilet construction. Prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s elevation at centre, less than 40% of the country’s population had access to a home toilet, a circumstance he intended to alter by investing tens of thousands of crores of rupees. On October 2, 2014, he started the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) programme, with the objective of eradicating open defecation and manual scavenging within five years.
The tables below show the data of this huge task’s step-by-step completion. Since 2015, each year has shown an achievement of 10-20% of the aim. This initiative has received assistance from government agencies, public sector organisations, and the private sector in their respective roles in order to achieve this achievement. The government encouraged corporations to contribute in their CSR funds in areas where they could function freely, which was a major success. Building 11 crore toilets in five years in every hamlet across the nation was a daunting undertaking, but the type of call made frequently by the PM himself has energised the stakeholders, including the beneficiaries.
The Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan and its success are the most significant achievements of the Narendra Modi government, and the world has taken notice. The vast increase in women’s living quality and sense of self-esteem has made him a hero to the world’s 1.3 billion people, regardless of caste, creed, or gender.
We’ll look at some statistics to see how much goodwill this achievement has brought PM Modi. This is NSSO’s survey data on ‘Key indicators of drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, and housing condition in India’ encompassed 4,475 villages and 3,522 urban blocks between July and December 2012.
• According to government figures, even after 66 years of independence, as many as 60% of rural families lacked access to a toilet. In urban India, the situation was slightly better, with fewer than 9% without the facility. According to the National Sample Survey Office, “59.4 percent and 8.8 percent of families in rural and urban India, respectively, did not have toilet facilities”.
• In rural and urban India, respectively, 31.9 percent and 63.9 percent of families with latrine facilities enjoyed exclusive usage.
The 69th round of a comparable study, which included 95,548 homes (53,393 rural and 42,155 urban), discovered that-
• A latrine was available to about 71.3 percent of rural families and approximately 96.2 percent of urban households.
• Among families with access to latrines, about 94.7 percent of men and 95.7 percent of females in rural areas used latrines on a regular basis, whereas approximately 98.0 percent of males and 98.1 percent of females in urban areas used latrines on a regular basis.
Around 11 crore toilets have been installed under the Swachh Bharat Mission, resulting in a paradigm shift in the mentality of 55 crore people who have stopped defecating in public, President Ram Nath Kovind remarked at the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention in 2018. Several countries, he added, want to learn from India’s success with the Swachh Bharat Mission.
“We need to share our knowledge with them. Seventy nations took part in it (Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention), and countries grew interested in the mission “President Kovind stated in his speech.
“India was responsible for the largest drop in Open Defecation since 2015, in terms of absolute numbers”, according to a Joint Monitoring Programme Report on water, sanitation and hygiene by the World Health Organization and UNICEF July 1, 2021.
We have achieved what we could not do in 66 years after independence, let us celebrate the emancipation of Indian women from defecating in public, from the danger of harassment, and the celebration of self-respect and thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on this World Toilet Day. The nation will never forget Bharat’s enormous stride into the future. There will be no more films like “Slumdog Millionaire,” and there will be no more international humiliation of India.
(The author is Research Scholar, NIT Surat. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. )