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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 30 December 2023

  1. Ensure More Women in Technology
  2. Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen II: A Revolution in Making


With the Lok Sabha elections approaching and political parties preparing to choose candidates, it is essential to acknowledge the longstanding issue of inadequate representation of women in the National Parliament, state legislatures, and positions of power. This problem is not exclusive to India; it persists, and in some cases worsens, in many other countries, including western democracies. Women face challenges not only in politics but also in various sectors globally.


GS Paper – 2

  • Salient Features of Indian Society
  • Women’s Issues
  • Issues Related to Women

Mains Question:                 

Women’s participation in the technology sector presents a mixed scenario. While some women have been important players in the technology sector in India and the world, the general progress of women has been disappointing. Comment. (15 Marks, 250 Words)

Nobel Prize and Women:

  • Between 1901 and 2023, the Nobel Prize was awarded to 965 individuals and 27 organizations, some receiving it twice. However, only 64 recipients were women, with Marie Curie being the only woman to receive it twice (in 1903 and 1911).
  • The gender disparity is particularly striking in fields such as physics (5 out of 225 recipients), medicine (13 out of 214), chemistry (8 out of 186), and economics (3 out of 90).
  • Even in fields where more women have received recognition, the numbers remain relatively low, such as 19 out of 92 in peace and 17 out of 103 in literature.
  • While there has been some improvement in recent years, achieving gender parity is still a considerable challenge for women.

Women and Technology:

  • The under-representation of women is not limited to the Nobel Prize; it extends to every domain of human activity beyond domesticity.
  • While it is impossible to analyze every sector in a single column, focusing on one, like the technology sector, can provide a rough picture of the broader situation.
  • The technology sector, being at the forefront of global and national progress, exemplifies the challenges women face in achieving equal representation in influential fields.
  • A survey indicates that women constitute 26% of the global workforce in the technology sector. Although this reflects an improvement from the 2019 figure of 19%, it falls short of warranting celebration.
  • A Forbes report reveals that in the United States, only 26.7% of technology jobs are held by women.

Representation of Women in the Technology Sector in India:

  • A report by Deutsche Welle, published in Frontline (August 29, 2023), highlights the contribution of over 100 women scientists and engineers to the Chandrayaan 3 mission, successfully landing a lunar rover on the moon. This achievement made India the first country to place a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole.
  • S. Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), underscores the involvement of women in conceptualizing, designing, and executing the mission, with some playing a significant role in navigating the lander’s critical descent.
  • The Deutsche Welle report referenced earlier highlights World Bank data indicating that women comprised nearly 43% of all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates in India, making it one of the highest rates globally.
  • Additionally NASSCOM’s ‘Strategic Review 2023 notes that 30% of the 5.4 million IT workers in India are women.

The Other Side of the Coin:

  • The Deutsche Welle report reveals that a nationwide survey found only 13% of scientists and science faculty at Indian higher education and research institutions are women.
  • Even at ISRO, women constitute only 20 to 25% of the total workforce of over 16,000 individuals.
  • Challenges faced by women committed to building careers include difficulties in pitching ideas, obtaining equal wages and timely promotions, accessing mentoring and networking opportunities, and securing a seat at the boardroom table.
  • According to McKinsey and Company’s 2022 report, in all industries, for every 100 men promoted to managerial positions, 86 women were promoted. In the technology industry, this number drops to 52 women promoted for every 100 men.


The call for government, research institutions, and businesses to make special efforts has become a well-worn cliché, but it holds a kernel of truth. Specific and carefully calibrated measures are necessary. The primary thrust should originate from the political arena, underscoring the significance of increasing the number of women Members of Parliament actively advocating for gender equality and justice.


India’s sanitation landscape is currently undergoing a significant transformation through the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen Phase II, achieving a noteworthy milestone of declaring over 5 lakh villages Open Defecation Free (ODF) Plus. To date, 16 States and Union Territories have attained 100% ODF Plus Status, with four achieving ODF Plus Model Status.


  • GS Paper – 2
  • Government Policies & Interventions
  • Health

Mains Question:

The Swachh Bharat Mission is not only making India’s villages cleaner and healthier but also positioning them as potential economic centres. Discuss. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

Swachh Bharat Mission:

  • On October 2, 2014, the Prime Minister of India inaugurated the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) with the primary goal of eradicating open defecation throughout the country by 2019.
  • The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiative signifies a crucial and long-overdue endeavor to improve sanitation conditions in India.
  • Globally, India’s record in terms of open defecation was even worse than in some economically disadvantaged regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, and Ghana.
  • This campaign aims to tackle this issue and elevate India’s sanitation standards to meet international norms.

Two distinct phases of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan:

  • The first phase of the mission extended until October 2019, and the second phase extends from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
  • The objectives of these phases were rooted in completing the foundational work laid out in Phase 1.

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen Phase I:

  • In the initial phase, launched in 2014, the rural sanitation coverage in the country stood at 38.7%.
  • Since the initiation of this effort, more than 100 million individual toilets have been constructed.
  •  Rural areas across all states declared themselves Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October 2, 2019.

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen Phase II:

  • The emphasis of Phase-II is on ensuring the lasting success of the accomplishments achieved in Phase-I.
  • This phase places significant importance on establishing effective infrastructure for the management of Solid/Liquid & Plastic Waste (SLWM) in rural India.
  • Implemented from 2020-21 to 2024-25 in a mission mode, this phase is allocated a comprehensive budget of Rs. 1,40,881 crores.

Under the ODF Plus category, SLWM is monitored using four outcome indicators:

  • Plastic waste management,
  • Biodegradable solid waste management (including animal waste),
  • Greywater (Household Wastewater) management
  • Fecal sludge management.

Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U):

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U), initiated in 2014, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, it is a national mission aimed at promoting cleanliness, sanitation, and effective waste management in the urban areas of India.
  • The program’s primary goal is to cleanse and eliminate open defecation from cities and towns across the country, and its implementation is divided into distinct phases.

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Urban Phase I:

In the initial phase, SBM-U 1.0, the pivotal goal was achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status across urban India. This involved providing access to sanitary facilities and encouraging a shift in behavioral norms.

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Urban Phase II:

  • SBM-U 2.0 (2021-2026), building upon the accomplishments of the initial phase, aimed not only for ODF+ and ODF++ standards but also for garbage-free urban regions.
  • Central to SBM-U 2.0 were sustainable sanitation practices, efficient waste management strategies, and the promotion of a circular economy model, focusing on harnessing waste as a resource and minimizing waste generation.

Success of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen Phase I:

  • The success of Phase I saw the construction of over 100 million Individual Household Toilets (IHHLs) and the transformation of 6 lakh villages into ODF areas, demonstrating a collective effort involving various sectors of society, including bureaucracy, public representatives, corporations, NGOs, and citizens.
  • The success of Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen Phase I can be attributed to an effective communication strategy comprising mass awareness campaigns, behavior change communication, and the formation of local committees to promote healthy hygiene practices, ensuring the cleanliness and health of villages.
  • The involvement of the Prime Minister, along with support from State and District administrations and endorsements from celebrities, significantly expanded the mission’s reach and impact.
  • Studies by UNICEF, WHO, and other organizations have attested to the positive impact of SBM, particularly in enhancing women’s safety, convenience, and dignity.

Success of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen Phase II:

  • SBM Grameen Phase II went beyond toilet construction, emphasizing the transformation of villages into clean, healthy spaces.
  • This phase underscored the importance of maintaining toilets, waste management, and responsible disposal of greywater.
  • The changed attitudes and behaviors of rural communities, adoption of new sanitation practices, and collaboration with stakeholders for waste management marked a significant cultural shift.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission complemented sanitation efforts by ensuring sustained toilet usage through water supply to all households.
  • The SBM Grameen Phase II campaigns, such as the Sujalam Campaign, focused on specific aspects of sanitation, leading to the construction of 5.1 million soak pits, showcasing the commitment to comprehensive sanitation solutions.
  • The participation of rural communities was a driving force behind the success of SBM Grameen Phase II, and community-driven approaches empowered individuals to take ownership of their sanitation facilities. Involvement from government agencies, PSUs, and rural WASH partners played a crucial role in realizing the mission’s goals.
  • The accomplishment of declaring over 5 lakh ODF Plus villages has resulted in an improved quality of life, reduced disease risks, and enhanced dignity and well-being in rural communities.
  • This milestone represents more than a statistic; it signifies a profound change impacting millions. It attests to the collective determination and resilience of rural communities in achieving a ‘Sampoorna Swachh Bharat’ or a Completely Clean India.

Challenges Ahead:

  • Complexity of Behavioral Change: Achieving enduring shifts in sanitation practices presents a multifaceted challenge, demanding a transformation in deeply ingrained habits and cultural norms.
  • Tracking Health Impact: The absence of a transparent mechanism to monitor the direct health benefits of enhanced sanitation complicates the demonstration of the mission’s positive effects on public health.
  • Inadequacy of Data: The lack of comprehensive and reliable on-the-ground data hinders accurate assessment and progress monitoring, impeding decision-making based on evidence.
  • Regional Dynamics Variation: India’s diverse cultural and regional contexts necessitate tailored approaches, making it difficult to implement a standardized solution throughout the entire country.
  • Development of Infrastructure: Swift urbanization and insufficient infrastructure development in certain areas pose obstacles to achieving universal access to sanitation facilities.
  • Financial Sustainability Concern: Ensuring long-term financial sustainability for the maintenance and operation of sanitation infrastructure remains a worry, especially in resource-constrained areas.
  • Resistance to Behavioral Change: Overcoming resistance to behavioral changes, particularly in rural and less-aware communities, requires ongoing education and engagement efforts.
  • Tradition of Open Defecation: Deeply ingrained practices of open defecation in specific regions impede progress toward complete sanitation coverage.
  • Limited Awareness: Insufficient awareness about the importance of sanitation and proper waste disposal continues to be a barrier, necessitating extensive awareness campaigns.
  • Inclusivity: Ensuring fair access for vulnerable populations, such as women, children, and disabled individuals, requires targeted strategies to overcome accessibility challenges.
  • Adaptation of Technology: The effective adoption and implementation of innovative technologies for waste management and sanitation can be hindered by a lack of awareness and training.


As SBM Grameen progresses, the focus on community ownership and management of sanitation infrastructure remains crucial for sustaining these practices. By addressing water body pollution and improving water security, SBM Grameen is not only making India’s villages cleaner and healthier but also positioning them as potential economic centers, contributing to the broader goal of India becoming a USD 5 trillion economy.

February 2024