Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
The Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G): An analysis
The momentum and scale of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) is unprecedented. Since the launch of the programme by the prime minister in October 2014, there has been an astonishing acceleration in the construction of toilets, with five crore built in three years.
Technical realities and what people know:
The preference for septic tanks remains deeply rooted and widespread. People believe they are better than the recommended more sustainable and economic twin pits because they are big and will take longer to fill, and, used sparingly, may even never have to be emptied. Due to widespread ignorance of technical details, many septic tanks are not built according to the guidelines, and end up contaminating the environment and damaging public health.
New technology: Twin leach pits are much better. Human waste flows to the first pit. Once full, it is left to become manure while new waste is diverted into a second pit. The first pit is emptied and the cycle starts again. This technology allows time for the waste to compost and become harmless, odourless and valuable fertiliser. However, rapid investigations found many people who had had twin pits constructed for them without any explanation of how they work. They lacked a sense of ownership and believed the pits would fill up fast. In consequence, they were using them only some of the time, continuing open defecation (OD) even in villages with 100 per cent toilet coverage.
This problem is acutely urgent. A recent rapid survey covering over a thousand households found that the proportion of twin pits being built in SBM is declining, and more and more unsustainable single leach pits are being built, especially among Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
Solution: The solution is to empower people through knowledge. Few rural people are aware of technical details or convinced by the advantages of twin pits. Mason training can help, but the major thrust needed is a massive communication campaign to inform all villagers of the technical options and details, what they are entitled to demand in quality and quantity of materials, and how to ensure masons do a full job, so that they are never be short-changed with single pits or substandard construction.
A major issue especially in drier areas. Women are the main fetchers of water and cleaners of toilets. One flush of a toilet takes many times more water than does the lota for cleansing when defecating in the open.
Gender plays a part too:
Men are the main open defecators. There can be a macho element, a preference for the open air, and an element of chivalry. This is reinforced by conventional campaigns which stress women’s dignity and needs: Men are considerate if they leave the toilets to women, so also minimising water use and the rate at which the pit will fill.
Challenges beyond ODF:
children’s poor, handwashing.
Rural faecal sludge management.
Solid and liquid waste management.
Toilets that need upgrading.
SBM-G verifications and several studies indicate that in practice 70-90 per cent coverage is often taken as acceptable for a declaration of open defecation free (ODF). There should be definite evidence on thresholds for coverage and use.
Often those without toilets are predominantly the marginalised and disadvantaged — OBC, SC, ST, the very poor, sick, disabled, aged and weak, or living in difficult or remote areas. For them, additional efforts and special policies and provisions are needed.
One rapid study discovered effective ways of changing men’s behaviour — groups of older women influencing men to adopt toilets when they go for OD. The study suggests that similar gentle and positive approaches should be promoted.
Rapid learning, sharing and adapting will be vital. f acted on effectively, it will speed progress and enhance sustainability.
The scale and complexity facing the SBM-G make it more challenging than any other rural development programme in the world. The scale of the achievements and milestones passed over the past three years far surpass anything we believed conceivably possible. Driven forward with impressive leadership and dynamism, shortcomings are inevitable and rapid learning and adjustments vital and imperative for sustainable success.
Connecting the dots:
The momentum and scale of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) is unprecedented. Discuss the achievements and further challenges faced by the programme.
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc. – their forms and effect on the society.
Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
100 years of Communism
The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution is to be celebrated this year. A hundred years ago, a group of Communist revolutionaries stormed the Winter Palace in St Petersburg to overthrow the first democratic government in Russian history. The new dawn they promised eventually became a nightmare for the millions of people who lived under Communist regimes. A group of European historians, in a book titled The Black Book Of Com\munism, estimated that 94 million people have been killed by Communist regimes around the world over the years.
The Communist ideology is derived, on the one hand, from the penetrating insights of Karl Marx on the contradictions of Victorian capitalism and, on the other, from the violent determination of Leninist regimes to impose their version of utopia on feudal societies.
The few experiments with a more moderate version of Communism—in Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito or during the Prague Spring led by Alexander Dub?ek—were too insignificant to make a lasting impact.
The liberal Menshevik regime in Georgia was crushed by an invading Bolshevik army in 1921.
The spectacular collapse of Communism across Europe as well as the embrace of capitalism by the Chinese Communists destroyed the last remnants of credibility.
Why Communism failed?
Capitalism in the advanced countries softened its hard edges in response to the Communist challenge.
The industrial proletariat that Marx hoped would be the driving force of historical transformation lost its political clout in economies where services became more important.
The innate failure of planning agencies to replace the price system as the primary institution of economic coordination amid rapid technological change ensured that Communist countries lost the race for global dominance.
Hope of the emergence of a new socialist man driven by political commitment rather than economic incentives such as higher wages or property rights proved to be vacuous.
The totalitarianism of the international Communist movement snuffed out all fresh thinking, and intellectual movements such as the New Left, Eurocommunism and analytical Marxism were treated as heretical.
Left parties on decline:
Any modern society needs a left to articulate the needs of the poorest. The liberal consensus that has dominated the world since 1990, and which deserves at least some of the credit for the most spectacular decline in poverty in human history, is now being challenged by a resurgent nationalism in the developed countries. The working class in these countries has seen its incomes stagnate as industrial jobs were shipped abroad or lost to automation. This working class has veered towards nationalist parties rather than the traditional left to articulate its grievances.
Left force in India:
In India, the left no longer has any power or influence. Its opposition to economic reforms, its failure to grapple with the complexities of caste, its restricted base in pockets of labour aristocracy such as bank unions, its readiness to compromise with Muslim communalism in an attempt to oppose Hindu communalism, its loyalty to Stalinist methods—these are just some of the factors that have made it irrelevant.
Socialism is desirable. But, the problem is that what is true of an intimate group of people need not be true of large populations. The rules of intimate groupings cannot be imposed on the extended order unless one is prepared to use extreme violence. This is the big lesson of 100 years of Communism.
Connecting the dots:
Discuss the concept of communism and the reasons behind its failure. Also discuss the concept in the context of present India.
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