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1.Will Swachh Bharat Abhiyan be a success?  (The Hindu) 

2.Hope in Darjeeling  (The Hindu)

3.Climate change is going to hit the Indian economy hard (Live Mint)

1.Will Swachh Bharat Abhiyan be a success (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue viewpoints regarding whether Swachh Bharat Abhiyan be a success. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is the most significant cleanliness campaign by the Government of India. The mission was launched on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, 2014. The urban component of the mission is being implemented by the Union Ministry of Urban Development and is India’s biggest ever cleanliness drive and the rural component of the mission have been implemented by Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
  • In the third year since its launch, the purpose of Swachh Bharat is still not clear. There have been various viewpoints regarding whether Swachh Bharat Abhiyan be a success or not?

LEFT

  • There is clear link between caste and occupation without addressing this, the mission for a clean India will not work. As the people who actually make the country Swachh and have kept it Swachh so far but it have been left behind, the goal cannot achieve without their participation.
  • In India, there is an inexorable link between occupation and caste; the occupation of manual scavenging is linked with caste. There is need to break the link between caste and occupation before we set out to achieve Swachh Bharat. It cannot be achieved by preaching.
  • India has made certain communities from particular castes clean the country, that’s why from last 4,000years; the same communities are cleaning the countryside. Without breaking the chain, those who make Bharat Swachh will never be a part of the campaign.
  • Despite the Constitution declaring the abolition of untouchability under Article 17, but it is still practised by perpetuating occupations such as scavenging. Cleaning India is not a spiritual experience and he should not glorify it. In the Indian context, manual scavenging is a misery, drudgery, so one cannot worship it.

Why Shaming is not solution?

  • State is appointing whistle-blowers who shame those who do not use toilets, in this way the state is terrorising people. The Constitution says the state cannot interfere in people’s lives. There is need to modernise the sewer lines and septic tanks and the investment of money and energy on smart techniques of sanitation, we don’t have to add more problems to the existing problem, because each toilet requires a septic tank and the question is who will clean the septic tank?
  • There has been news about people dying in manholes after being ordered to clean the sewage. There is need to mechanised cleaning of manholes in the city. It should not be the job of the most depressed man to clean up and lose his life in the process.

RIGHT

  • The sanitation scheme is kind of social transformation. Swacchata was an idea first articulated by Mahatma Gandhi that sanitation is even more important than political freedom. A mission as fundamentally transformative as Swachh Bharat will not only result in intended physical outcomes but also a lifestyle and mindset change.
  • It has been 3 years but the about 50 million toilets have been constructed in rural India, increasing the coverage from 39% to 69% now; another 3.8 million have sprung up in cities and towns and another 1.4 million are presently under construction.
  • So far, 248,000 villages have been resurrected from the ignominy of open defecation. Five States have declared themselves Open Defecation Free (ODF) in rural areas- Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Haryana. About 1,200 of our cities and towns, about one-third of the total, have already become ODF.
  • According to the rightist, credible surveys show that 85% of toilets built under this mission are being used. Long-inculcated or forced habits take time to change, but they definitely will. The alternative to not using toilets is to walk long distances either at night, as is the case mostly with women and girl children, or at sunrise. This is more a forced option and a habit than a preferred choice.
  • The argument cited by rightist is that the mission will work for sure since its success will have the most liberating impact on the women of our country. All houses being built under the ‘Housing for All’ mission will have toilets and the title will vest in the name of women, either individually or jointly. This is about women’s empowerment, freeing them from domestic subjugation besides liberating them from humiliating open defecation.
  • Proper integration of various components of the sanitation chain such as ensuring water supply, seepage management, sewerage networks, prevention of manual scavenging and solid waste management form the key for the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • The ongoing mass mobilisation campaign ‘Swacchata Hi Seva’ also highlights sanitation as the real service to the nation. We owe a ‘Swachh Bharat’ to the Mahatma on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary in 2019.

CENTRE

  • According to centre viewpoint, there is key problem with the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is that the government is primarily focussed on promotions and events of a repackaged scheme than its implementation. The SBM was earlier known as the’ Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan’ under the former government.
  • There have been duplicate entries, ghost beneficiaries and missing households which were the first stumbling blocks in SBM, as pointed out by researchers from the Accountability Initiative of the Centre for Policy Research.
  • The overall ratings have gone down on three parameters in the recent World Bank report progress towards achievement of programme development objectives from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘moderately satisfactory’; overall implementation progress from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘moderately unsatisfactory’; and overall risk rating from ‘nil’ to ‘substantial’.
  • The government in 2017-18 has allocated ₹13,948 crore for the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) project; for the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) project, the allocation was merely ₹2,300 crore. According to the 2011 Census, 31.16% of the total population lives in urban areas.
  • Also, the growth of population in urban areas is 32% over a decade and rural is 12%. The fact that the urban population is growing at a much more rapid rate has been ignored by the government. In urban areas, huge landfill sites running beyond capacity are the biggest problem. Decentralisation, segregation of garbage at source, and encouraging community and household treatment of waste is the only viable alternative.

For example- The Centre for Science and Environment, in its survey assessed Alappuzha as the one of the leading cities in terms of innovation and improvement of the SWM, but the government’s Swachh Survekshan rated it poorly, which reflects the ill-conceived direction of SBM-U and its assessment parameters.

  • The components of the problem in urban areas are very different from those in rural areas. But the SBM has painted both with the same brush. A case study of Annual Status of Education Report (2016) revealed that as many as 96.5% of rural elementary government schools had toilets, but more than one in four toilets (27.79%) were dysfunctional or locked. Under the SBM, no importance is being given to the upkeep, maintenance and sustainability of these community infrastructures.
  • The focus of the SBM-G should be on behavioural change; the guidelines also require that 8% of the funds be allocated for information, education and communication activities. But during 2016-17, up to January 2017 only 1% of the total expenditure had been made on information, education and communication.

QuestionIt has been more than 3 years since the Government of India flagged off its Swachh India mission. Explain how for the success of the mission, we need to address the problem in urban areas differently from those in rural areas.

2.Hope in Darjeeling (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of the long blockade in the Darjeeling hills has been withdrawn. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • India’s most famous tea-growing region, nestled in the Himalayan foothills, is wilting under strife. Darjeeling hills was shutdown, demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The recent protests started in order to challenge the rule passed by the West Bengal government which stated that Bengali should be made a compulsory language in schools across the state.
  • Normalcy returned to Darjeeling on Wednesday after more than 100 days of complete shutdown, with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) withdrawing the indefinite bandh.

Background

  • After the 104-day-long blockade in the Darjeeling hills the Union and West Bengal governments must move forthwith to consolidate the ‘truce’ and address the setback to livelihoods and the local economy suffered over this period. The blockade had severely hit life in the hill districts, and it is clear that local support for the agitation was waning.
  • The Gorkhas are a Nepalese-speaking community who are in a majority in the region. The crisis in Darjeeling was sparked by fears of Bengali language being imposed in schools in the GJM-administered areas where a majority of the people are Nepali-speaking Gorkhas. Nepali is the official language in the hills of Bengal and it was recognised as an official language of Bengal in 1961.
  • After the announcement GJM revived an almost 100-year-old demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. Its chief Bimal Gurung asked supporters to fight a final battle. Though the West Bengal government clarified that Bengali will be an optional subject but the GJM refused to back down.
  • A section of the GJM, led by Binay Tamang, had shown an inclination to negotiate with the State government. In a move to cash in on the differences within the GJM on 20th September the West Bengal government announced the constitution of a nine-member board of administrators with the same powers as Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the defunct Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, which had been set up in 2012 as a semi-autonomous body with substantive powers.
  • There have been a couple of unsuccessful bilateral meetings between the agitators and the west Bengal government where the government assured them that they would explore whether it was possible to call a tripartite meeting to discuss the impasse. The current impasse is a direct outcome of the failure to substantively devolve power to the GTA as promised.

Way ahead

  • There is need to discuss the matter by involving the Centre, the State government and the GJM. As this is the best mechanism to discuss the empowerment of the GTA, which is necessary to address the grievances of the residents of Darjeeling.

QuestionHistorical and geographical flux, a continuous feeling of exclusion and perceived cultural dominance by Bengalis have aggravated the demand for the creation of Gorkhaland. Critically analyse.

3.Climate change is going to hit the Indian economy hard (Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue on the climate change and its impact on the Indian economy. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Climate change is serious challenge for a country like India where about 50% of the population directly or indirectly depends on agriculture for a livelihood. A report from the World Economic Outlook of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlights some of the damaging macroeconomic impact of weather shocks, particularly for low-income countries.
  • There have been low productivity due the uneven monsoon, and the possibility of weather events is likely to increase in the future.

Distressed sector

  • The farm sector in India is in distress, though several state governments have responded with loan waivers but this could affect their fiscal math and the ability to push capital expenditure at a time when the Indian economy has slowed significantly.
  • According to estimates, production of kharif crops in the current year is expected to decline by 2.8% because of an uneven monsoon. The possibility of such weather events is likely to increase in the future. And that means a serious challenge for a country like India where about 50% of the population directly or indirectly depends on agriculture for a livelihood.
  • The IMF study shows that for the median emerging market economy, growth goes down by 0.9 percentage point in the same year because of a 1-degree Celsius increase from a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius. The impact on the median low-income developing country is even higher.
  • Weather does not affect the agriculture sector alone, it affects productivity in general. Research shows that productivity starts declining strongly after peaking at an average annual temperature of about 13 degrees Celsius. Therefore, countries located in areas with higher temperature will face a disproportionate impact of global warming. Loss of output and lower productivity also affects capital formation, which has a bearing on medium- to long-term growth prospects.

Suggested steps

  • The necessary steps to minimize the impact of climate change will have to be taken at both the individual country level and the global level. In order to reduce the impact of changing weather patterns, emerging market and low-income economies will have to build significant macroeconomic resilience.
  • According to the IMF, having the right policies and institutions in place may help attenuate the effects of temperature shocks, to some extent. The instantaneous effect of a temperature shock is slightly smaller in countries with lower public debt, higher inflows of foreign aid, and greater exchange rate flexibility.
  • India is in relatively better off in this context, but it needs to preserve and further strengthen macroeconomic stability to be able to deal with such shocks. Though India has done well to reduce its dependence on the monsoon, which is evident from the fact that two successive years of drought did not result in runaway inflation. However, more needs to be done to enhance productivity in the agriculture sector. Financial losses can be reduced by higher penetration of insurance products.
  • India can also work on programmes that will help improve the quality of land and reduce the risk of climate change.  India can perhaps use employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in a better way to enhance soil and water conservation.
  • India also needs to strengthen its overall capability by investing in and adopting technology as the impact of climate change is not limited to agriculture. For instance, better use of technology can reduce energy consumption for air conditioning.  For example- a district cooling system is being constructed in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City.

Way ahead

  • At the global level, a consensus was attained under the Paris Agreement to contain the rise in global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius from the pre industrial levels. Advanced countries have also committed to provide financial assistance to developing countries to help cope with the impact of climate change but it is also being reported that advanced economies may not meet their commitment of reducing emissions.

 

  • The lack of will among industrialized economies to contain emissions is disappointing, and it could lead to consequences that go beyond the realm of macroeconomics.

 

 

Question– Explain the impact of climate change on agriculture. How can India address the risk of climate change? Suggest some measures.