Skip to main content

Coercion-induced 26% Hindi belt open defecation decline "unlikely" to last: Study

Note: pp stands for percentage points
By Rajiv Shah
Sharply contesting the Government of India claim that “open defecation has been entirely or largely eliminated” in the Hindi belt, a recent study, “Changes in open defecation in rural north India: 2014-2018” has found that “between 42% to 57% of rural people over two years old defecate in the open” in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Based on a survey of 1,558 households involving 9,812 individuals, and 156 “qualitative interviews”, the survey finds that there was inter-state variation – 25% in Bihar, 39% in Uttar Pradesh, 53% in Rajasthan and 60% in Bihar – the study says even this was a better showing than what it was previously, though achieved through coercion.
Predicting that coercive tactics are unlikely to remain effective for long, the study says, compared with 2014, when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance came to power, there was 26 percentage point reduction in open defecation in 2018, which is more than six percentage points per year, “rapid compared to the likely rate of decline in prior years.”
Published by the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE), and authored by Aashish Gupta, Nazar Khalid, Devashish Deshpande, Payal Hathi, Avani Kapur, Nikhil Srivastav, Sangita Vyas, Dean Spears, and Diane Coffey, the study, however, regrets that “nearly the entire change in open defecation between 2014 and 2018 comes from increases in latrine ownership, rather than from changes in behaviour (that is, differences in the proportion of owners and non-owners who defecate in the open).” 
Coercion used on different social groups, 2018

Pointing out that “this finding is consistent with our qualitative interviews, which found that local officials were far more likely to stress latrine construction as a priority of the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan (SBM) than they were to stress use of latrines”, the study finds that “large increases in latrine coverage in each of the focus states between 2014 and 2018.”
Finding “considerable variation” here, too, the study says, the “increases in latrine ownership ranged from 21 percentage points in Bihar to 47 percentage points in MP and Rajasthan, with the government support for latrine construction “ranged from 19% of households in Bihar to 53% of households in Madhya Pradesh.”
At the same time, the study says, “People in households that received money to build their own latrine, rather than a government constructed latrine, were almost 10 percentage points less likely to defecate in the open.” It adds, however, that "the fraction of people who own a latrine, but who nevertheless defecate in the open, did not change between 2014 and 2018: it was about 23% in both years."
At the same time, the study notes the “estimated reduction in open defecation of approximately 26 percentage points over four years of the SBM” came with “a social cost: coercion and threats by local officials were commonplace”, even “violence and bullying.”
The study believes, this “social cost” is likely to reach a situation where there is “uncertainty about whether latrine use among new latrine owners will be sustained when the environment of enforcement and coercion diminishes”.
Thus, the study says, in Rajasthan, it was found that that “only 45% of people in households where the primary reason for building a latrine was pressure from village officials used it”, compared with “about 80% latrine use among people in households where convenience or lack of open spaces was the primary cause for construction.”
Open defecation among latrine owners by pit size, 2018
According to the survey, “coercion followed familiar patterns of social disadvantage”, pointing out, “Both among latrine owners and among latrine non-owners, Dalit and Adivasi households were more likely than households from other social groups to report that they personally experienced coercion.”
The study finds that coercion was came in three forms -- stopped from defecating in the open, threat to stop benefits and threat of fine – underlining, “Among households that own a latrine, Dalits are over twice as likely as others to report that their own household received coercion and Adivasis were almost three times as likely.”
In yet another revelation, the study finds that if households are split by religion, one finds that “Hindus in latrine-owning households are more likely to defecate in the open than Muslims in latrine-owning households.”
At the same it finds that “open defecation is much less common in households with larger latrine pits, especially among Hindu households.”
It adds, “One reason for this pattern is that smaller pits are perceived to require frequent emptying, an activity which is associated with caste impurity”, while “large pits, in contrast, do not require emptying as frequently, and therefore their use does not invoke the same worries about contact with faeces or hiring a manual scavenger.”
---
Download full report HERE

Comments

Uma said…
A time will come when the country will be odf but it will not happen soon. In this, as in many other things, the government thinks people are blind, deaf, and stupid.
Anonymous said…
A good article. Unless the toilets are linked with tap water, maintaining a clean toilet needs considerable amount of water. Even in our village toilets I have encountered this problem. Then, their quality of construction must further improve, for which, skilled persons are needed. We didn’t address these issues in the concept.
Anonymous said…
Small sample and wrong extrapolation. field survey done much earlier when coverage was less.

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”