Sunday, 2 October 2016

Impact of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on Tourism sector in India

By Dr. G G Saxena and Ambuj Saxena

“No, I can’t stay here a minute longer. It smells too bad!!” Linda said to her husband who was by now tired of trying to convince her otherwise. Linda’s husband opened a part of the room curtain, looked at the garbage that was spewn outside the hotel premises, he further looked at a distance, a slum dweller emptying his bowels in the open. Then, he looked around in the room at the cozy fireplace, romantic whirlpool tub, plush king-sized bed and the private balcony. These modern amenities seemed meagre when compared to the pile of dirt and unhealthy sanitation practices practiced by people around them. Within half an hour, Linda and her husband collected their baggage and checked out of the accommodation and started searching for a Bed and Breakfast accommodation with a clean environment and modern amenities in the room in that order.

Swachh Bharat- clean India
Swachh Bharat- Clean India

A tourist likes to explore the city as well as the place of stay. He/she wanders out to try new cuisine or catch an event or to know more about the cultural heritage of the city. Here, cleanliness is assumed to be a given. A foreign traveler’s psyche is affected by the kind of accommodation offered as well as the locality of the accommodation. The place of stay leaves a lifelong imprint of the country/state/place in the mind of the tourist. It helps recommend to the others about what to expect and what not to expect from the place.

Travel for fulfilment
Travel for fulfilment

India is a land of natural and cultural diversity. India ranks 8th in natural resources and 24th in cultural resources globally. However, it ranks a dismal 42nd in Foreign Tourist Arrival (FTA) with 0.68% share of Global FTA. This blog attempts to solve this riddle by analysis cum evaluation of government’s efforts towards the same and provide a way forward to increase FTA in India.

Why does India suffer from lack of Sanitation?

This is partly a problem of poor infrastructure of household toilets, community toilets, non-availability of water in the rural hinterland. A sizeable population of India is living below the poverty line and lacks the basic amenities such as water, house, food, toilets etc.

Partly, it is a behavioral problem. If we compare India with sub-Sahara African 
nations, most of the sub-Sahara African nations are way behind India in terms of macroeconomic indicators such as GDP etc yet these nations do not have such enormous open defecation problems. Researches have suggested that apart from poor infrastructure, India’s rigid caste system has acted as a catalyst to the problem of increase in open defecation. Toilet’s Pit emptying is assumed to be done by lower cast people and looked down upon by upper caste hindus’. Thus, merely setting up of toilets does not offer a comprehensive solution to the issue of open defecation. It needs participation of a large number of NGO’s and due diligence by the district administrative workforce to cause change in behavior and encourage use of toilets. For example, in Rajasthan, district administration workforce has formed effective links with the local community to alter behavior and to meet the water needs by District authorities incentivized the participating villages to compete with each other to make villages open defecation free at the earliest.

Spiraling effects of lack of Sanitation in India

In view of the above, in 2014, World Bank had called India the hotbed of open defecation. India accounts for 60% global population that defecates in the open. The practice of Open Defecation is harmful to the entire community as it pollutes the underground water and increases the risk of water-borne diseases such as Diarrhea etc. In 2014, 300 million cases and 0.3 million deaths due to diarrhea were reported in children under 5 years of age (RGI 2014). 

Symptoms and Impact of Diarrhea | Source:
Symptoms and Impact of Diarrhea | Source:

In the face of low penetration of health insurance in India (only about 20% population is covered), citizens are left to fend for themselves to spend their precious savings on healthcare costs. This leads to catastrophic health expenditure by the poor citizens. It has been estimated that 70% of urban households’ total out-of-pocket expenditure is on health while it is 80% for rural households.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and its objectives

In light of the above situation, PM Modi had announced Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) on 15th August 2014 from the ramparts of Red Fort. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a pan India cleanliness campaign that aims to make India Open Defecation Free by 2nd Oct 2019 ie. On 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. It may be remembered that Gandhiji did not feel shy of cleaning the surroundings and toilets being used by others. Thus, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) is inspired from the noble deeds of Father of the nation. Even the logo of campaign has the spectacles depicting that of Gandhiji. Thus, SBA includes building household toilets, community toilets, addressing solid waste management as well as liquid waste management.

Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Saina Nehwal and other celebrities participating in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Saina Nehwal and other celebrities participating in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Under the Indian Constitution, Public health and sanitation is mentioned in Entry 6 of State list and Water is mentioned in entry 17 of the same list. However, water also finds a mention in Entry 56 of Union List. So it requires effective coordination between States and centre to fulfill the objectives of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Logo- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Logo- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

The Swachh Bharat Mission has the following 7 key objectives:
    1.       Elimination of Open Defecation
    2.       Eradication of Manual scavenging
    3.       Modern and scientific municipal solid waste management
    4.       Behavioral change regarding healthy sanitation practices
    5.       Awareness about sanitation and its linkage to public health.
    6.       Capacity augmentation of Urban Local Bodies
   7.   Enabling environment for private sector participation in CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) and OPEX (Operation and maintenance expenditure)

Additionally, the financial structure has also been clearly spelled out. It requires cooperation from the states as well as private sector participation for sharing financial requirements as well as planning and execution of the campaign in adequate measure. Swachh Bharat Cess is being levied to partly meet finances of the campaign.
Thus, policymakers have done their part in making the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan policy now it remains to be seen that the due results take place through effective district administration and efficient coordination amongst government and private stakeholders.

This was mentioned in my earlier post as well. Thus, 2 years into the campaign, it needs to be seen if India can be made Open Defecation Free by 2nd October 2019 as planned by the incumbent central government.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan- Making India Open Defecation Free
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan- Making India Open Defecation Free

Accomplishments of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan:

It is reported that out of 6,40,000 villages in India, 54,000 villages have been made open defecation free.

NSSO conducted survey of 73,176 rural households, 41,538 urban households in 3788 villages and 2907 urban blocks in May 2015. Following were the findings:
    ·         13% villages have community toilets
    ·         42% urban wards have community toilets.
    ·         36% urban area wards have proper liquid waste management system
    ·         36% villages have pakki naali and 19% have katchi naali
    ·         78% urban area wards have a system of street cleaning
   ·      95% persons in rural areas are using sanitary toilets in their household or  community
   ·        98% persons in urban areas are using sanitary toilets in their household or community

There are other parameters on which the performance of SBA can be judged. It can be safely concluded that within 2 years of the scheme, there have been significant gains with respect to infrastructure augmentation as well as behavioral change. However, the efforts need to be multiplied manifold to achieve the target of Open defecation free India in the remaining 3 years. It requires a greater level of dedication and commitment to the noble cause not just from Governments at the centre and states but also proactive engagement by private sector under corporate social responsibility, other non-governmental organizations and participation of each and every citizen. This has also been stated by the various Brand Ambassadors of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Thus, we should all take a pledge:

1. I shall not spit in public and discourage others from doing so.
2. I shall not litter in public and discourage others from doing so.
3. I shall not urinate in open areas and discourage others from doing so.
4. I shall not encroach area.
5. I shall not write anything on monuments of historic significance and discourage others from doing so.
6. I shall use Swachh Bharat Abhiyan stamps whenever I send correspondence to other places.

If each of us follow the pledge, we shall serve ourselves and the community.
Most importantly, we will be able to sleep satisfactorily.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan stamps
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan stamps

Swachh Sarvekshan

Ministry of Urban Development conducted a survey of 73 cities with over 10 lakh population under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, called the Swachh Sarvekshan. The parameters were as follows:

    ·         How cities propose to stop ODF
    ·         How cities plan to integrate solid waste management
   ·         Communication strategies adopted by cities for behavioral change through information dissemination and education
    ·         Systems adopted for sweeping, door-to-door collection and transportation of waste
    ·         Efficiency in processing and waste disposal
    ·         Deployment of public and community toilets
    ·         Progress in construction of individual household toilets

The 5 most clean cities were:
    1.       Mysuru (Karnataka)
    2.       Chandigarh
    3.       Tiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu)
    4.       New Delhi
    5.       Vishakhapatna (Andhra Pradesh)

There were other cities out of the 73 surveyed that were found lacking in the Swachh Sarvekshan parameters and ended at the bottom of the ranking ladder such as :Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), Patna (Bihar), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Asansol (West Bengal) and Dhanbad (Jharkhand).

Bhopal city makes an interesting case in the success stories of SBA. Citizen groups in Bhopal city have not only voluntarily taken up the task to clean slum areas but are also decorating the walls of the slums and making visually attractive graffiti.

Swachh Paryatan mobile app has been launched by Min. of Tourism wherein, domestic and foreign tourists can flag issues related to cleanliness in and around 25 ASI protected monuments.
Swachh Paryatan App home screen
Swachh Paryatan App home screen
Swachh Paryatan App screen 2
Swachh Paryatan App screen 2

These include Humayun’s tomb, Red Fort and Qutub minar in Delhi, Taj Mahal in Agra, Rani ki vav in Gujarat, Kumbhalgarh fort in Rajasthan, Hampi in Karnataka, Konark temple in Odisha, Thanjaur-Brihadesvara temple in Tamil Nadu etc. If the feedback given by the users is acted upon promptly, it can lead to cleaner heritage sites of India.
[The app can be downloaded at]

This blog is the second part in the series of Government schemes directly/indirectly affecting tourism in India. The first part was analysis of impact of E-Tourist Visa scheme on Tourism sector in India.