The Business Standard report ‘Four years of Modi govt: Swachh Bharat Mission sees slip-ups’, published May 23, 2018, written by Nitin Sethi, tries to analyse Swachh Bharat Abhiyan- one of the flagship schemes of the present government. Right from the headline, the analysis seems to have started with a premeditated result in mind, and facts and data seem to have been presented to support the claims that the author wants to make. Therefore, this is less of an analysis based on bare facts, and more an opinion or perception that the writer holds about the scheme.
The claim of low budget allocation
Take for instance the fact that the writer feels that budget allocation to the scheme has been a challenge. The writer doesn’t tell us what is the point of comparison against which the current budget allocation seems inadequate.
The following graph has been presented in the Business Standard report:
The problem with the above representation is that, to a layman, it may seem that the allocation may have come down from 2017-18 to 2018-19. The budget estimates (BE) of 2018-19 for the scheme, which is at Rs 153.43 billion, is actually more than the budget estimate for 2017-18, which stood at Rs 139.48 billion. Therefore, the budget allocation has only increased consistently in the last four years.
Further, when Swachh Bharat Mission’s budget allocation is analysed, it needs to be relative to something. Here, the erstwhile Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan under the previous administration received just Rs 24.74 billion and Rs 22.44 billion in 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively. Compare this to the budget allocation of Rs 153.43 crore in 2018-19 for Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural). There is no comparison between the scale and budget of Nirmal Bharat and Swachh Bharat.
Using an old study to make new claims
The Business Standard piece makes another claim about the effectiveness of the scheme by quoting an old study from 2016 published by the Centre for Policy Research. It must be reminded that Swachh Bharat Mission started in October 2014. The study quoted dates back to 2016. Making observations from a study from 2016 in 2018, two years later, is a completely flawed and redundant way of analysis.
The following observations were made in a fairly recent National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2017-18:
- 77% of households were found to have access to toilets during the survey period
- 93.4% of the people who had access to toilets used them
- 95.6% of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF were confirmed to be ODF. The remaining 4.4% villages also had sanitation coverage of over 95%
While the study quoted by Business Standard, dating back to 2016, covered only 7,500 households, NARSS covered 92,040 households in 6,136 villages across states and UTs of India. The NARSS report is not only fairly recent but covers more ground.
The current Open Defecation status of Swachh Bharat is represented in the following figure:
The analysis done by Business Standard for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is at best, an attempt at cherry-picking data, disregarding the time and the relative parameters. While Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan was hardly known to anyone, Swachh Bharat is one of the most popular campaigns being run in the country. It has taken the form of a mass movement that has polarized citizens with the common goal of cleanliness and improved sanitation. The effort is visible in the form of a higher budget allocation and a significant change in toilet coverage and open-defecation free status over the years.