Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam: Paper - II (General Studies – I) - 31 October 2019

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam


Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam


UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-II: General Studies - I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)

Q. India declared itself Open Defecation Free (ODF) on 2nd October 2019, however there are still miles to go in order to sustain the ODF status. Discuss. (250 words)

Model Answer:

  • Why in News?
  • Introduction
  • Status of Open Defecation Free
  • Challenges to Open Defecation Free
  • Initiatives to address the challenges
  • Conclusion

Why in News?

On 2nd October, to mark the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that 99 per cent of rural villages in India have declared themselves open defecation free.

Introduction:

The Government of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) on 2nd October. The main objective of Swachh Bharat Mission is to construct 100% toilets for each household of the country, so as to achieve the objective of clean and open defecation-free India.

Status of Open Defecation Free:

Open Defecation Free is defined as there should be no visible faeces in the environment or village. It also entails that every household as well as public/community institutions using safe technology option for disposal of faeces.

The current status of Open Defecation Free in India is as follows:

  • A Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for water supply and sanitation, of UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), 2019 report: between 2000 and 2014, open defecation decreased by some 3 percentage points a year, while between 2015 and 2019 it reduced at over 12 percentage points a year.
  • According to government estimates, by February 2019, over 93 per cent of the country’s rural households had access to toilets.
  • Over 96 per cent of them also used the toilets, suggesting an important change in behaviour.
  • Several ground report found that several people in villages across India, including the national capital, were still forced to defecate in open due to lack of toilets, especially in impoverished colonies.

Challenges to Open Defecation Free:

  • A majority of the toilets lack basic amenities like water facilities.
  • The government shifted attention to sustaining the status by managing waste – solid and liquid. Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) is currently poor in India.
  • Lack of behavioural change towards using toilet.
  • Many claimed that Swachh Bharat Mission was an anti-poor project. India has around 90 lakh homeless people, without homes they lack places to build toilets. This hampers our dream of becoming Open Defecation Free.
  • A study claims that, currently India has 10,000 honey sucker machines in use. These machines are used to suck faecal sludge from septic tanks. India, for now, has only 20 Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants in operation. The number is too small to treat the huge quantity of sewage being produced and taken out.
  • Lack of funds to build new toilets and maintain the existing toilets. 

Initiatives to address the challenges:

  • The most important task is to include people who still lack toilets, overcome partial toilet use, and retrofit toilets which are not yet sustainably safe.
  • Local are to be involved more in order to successfully achieve the status of Open Defecation Free and maintain the status.
  • Local administrations must encourage people to participate in taking up construction works.
  • ODF sustainability and its significance must be constantly discussed in gatherings and meetings at the Panchayat level. Concerned authorities should discuss cases of open defecation in an ODF village/city regularly, take action to ensure that such incidents are not repeated and plans adopted by the village/city administration to keep the ODF status of the area intact.
  • For behavioural change of the society, a trained workforce is needed that can trigger communities. This involves taking the community through a participatory process of self-analysis where people are informed about the ill effects of inadequate sanitation and its adverse effects on human life if proper facilities are not used.

Conclusion:

Swachh Bharat Mission has successfully brought many people to use toilets and stop defecating in open areas. The spirit of bidding farewell to open defecation is a gift to Gandhi and it deserves accolades. But there are still miles to go. India needs to focus on sustaining the tag of Open Defecation Free as well as further reducing open defecation free in India.

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