ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Culture versus Coercion: Other Side of Nirmal Gram Yojana

The sanitation programme, Nirmal Gram Yojana, with its emphasis on a top-down approach, has failed in Bastar because it is being thrust on people in an area where water is scarce and they have few resources for maintenance.

COMMENTARYEconomic & Political Weekly EPW october 25, 200825and extract money from them. It is also possible to evict them from the roadside without prior notice. In some places, their goods can be confiscated. Thus, just having a national policy will not serve the purpose even if the guidelines address most of the issues raised over the years. The lack of a time-frame and implementation schedule has also gone against the vendors and the lackluster approach of the state and local governments have continued. The current situation is not one of its kind. Most of new policies/laws/regulations are formed without repealing the exist-ing laws/regulations which make the ensuing policies/laws/regulation handi-capped in being able to benefit the de-sired segment and so is the case of the urban vendors. Notes1 In a strict sense, vendors are those who stick to a place and sell while hawkers are those who move from one place to another for selling. Hawkers are also called peddlers or packmen.2Danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation: Whoever, by doing any act, or by omitting to take order with any property in his possession or under his charge, causes danger, obstruction or injury to any person in any public way or public line of navigation, shall be punished with fine which may extend to Rs 200.3 Mischief by injury to public road, bridge, river or channel: Whoever commits mischief by doing any act which renders or which he knows will likely render any public road, bridge, navi-gable river or navigable channel, natural or arti-ficial, impassable or less safe for travelling or conveying property, shall be punished with im-prisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.ReferenceMinistry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (2004): ‘National Policy for Urban Street Vendors’, Government of India, Delhi.Culture versus Coercion: Other Side of Nirmal Gram YojanaNilika Mehrotra, S M PatnaikThe sanitation programme, Nirmal Gram Yojana, with its emphasis on a top-down approach, has failed in Bastar because it is being thrust on people in an area where water is scarce and they have few resources for maintenance. Through the much publicised Nirmal Gram Yojana, the ministry of rural development (MoRD) has been boasting of pushing a cleanliness drive in the rural hinterlands. Under the ambitious Bharat Nirman Programme of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, out of six components, the MoRD is con-cerned with implementation of three, namely, rural roads, rural housing and ru-ral drinking water supply.1 According to the MoRD, the government has planned to achieve the objective of the total sanitation campaign (TSC) by 2012. All schools would be provided with drink-ing water and sanitation facilities by March 31, 2007.2 For ensuring greater participation of panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) and non-governmental organisa-tions (NGOs), Nirmal Gram Puraskar has been introduced at the district level.3 Through the TSC the centre and the state governments seek an improvement in the quality of life in rural areas. The campaign is fully funded by the state gov-ernment and the centre under the Nirmal Gram Yojana. The thrust is on providing total sanitation to a large number of fami-lies living below the poverty line (BPL) identified by state governments. They are to be provided toilets (shauchalaya) and sanitation facilities. The programme seeks to improve the supply of water along with an extension of sanitation facilities, espe-cially for the women and children.The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have been some of the key players claiming to usher in “healthy life-styles” by introducing “healthy and clean habits” among the rural masses. This pro-gramme has a political and bureaucratic agenda having “high” visibility but is of “doubtful sustainability”. In the past too, “well intentioned” schemes had been launched by successive governments from time to time and they were mindlessly followed as evident from the case studies carried out by anthropologists [Dube 1958; Bhandari 1988; Patnaik 1989, 2007 and Thomas 2004]. This article takesa critical view of the shauchalaya programme.Bastar: A PictureA visit to study the role of an NGO in tribal development in Bastar in Chhattisgarh in November 2006 revealed a very disappoint-ing picture of state policy in practice. In all the six villages that were visited, Nirmal Gram Yojanawasin actionwith prominent boards and placards. The government offi-cials as well as NGO workers were working over time to achieve “success”. The agenda behind implementing this programme is the receipt of incentive money from the central government and an award from the president of India given to the district col-lector. The activities were on for almost three months. The villagers were being told to abandon their age-old habits of using open spaces for defecation and start using personal toilets built inside the compound Nilika Mehrotra ( is with the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and S M Patnaik ( is with the Department of Anthropology, Delhi University.


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