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Today’s Talk on Editorials November 20, 2017- Civils360

More than just a counting game- The Hindu

Background: United Nations General Assembly  in 2013 designated November 19 as World Toilet Day,.It is coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with governments and partners, to recognize the action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Today, about 4.5 billion people live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste. The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, recognize the importance of sanitation and include a target to ensure everyone has access to a safely-managed household toilet by 2030.

  • The targets set under SDG and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan  are not just about ‘toilets’ but contains improvements to the entire cycle of sanitation,  beginning with toilets and ending with safe waste disposal. Therefore,India must focus on more than toilets to address sanitation woes.

  • The full cycle of sanitation has four stages:  access to toilets; safe containment; conveyance either through the sewerage network or de-sludging trucks, and treatment and disposal.It is intrinsically linked to health, and unless  waste is treated properly and disposed of safely, it will find its way back into our bodies and make us sick either by contaminating our sources of drinking water or getting into the food chain.

  • Urban India faces considerable gaps along the full cycle of sanitation. One probable reason for these deficits was the belief that sewerage and sewage treatment systems could be built in all cities. However, India has managed to connect only a little more than a third of its urban households.Reasons for inadequate coverage includes  expensive initial cost of sewerage systems and sewage treatment plants and  also complications of maintenance.
  • Alternative to sewerage systems is something known as on-site systems. This mode of waste management known as feacal sludge management(FSM) is  being increasingly recognized by the Government of India  as a viable option.
  • Several challenges are there for FSM too. Improper construction practices, improper transportation of wastes, inadequate coverage across states remain concern.  National Urban Sanitation Policy (NUSP) has released guidelines for states to adopt proper FSM. However , only some states like Orissa, Tamil Nadu have released State-wide septage management guidelines and taken concrete steps to execute these policies.
  • Some corrective measures which urban India can follow from now on include, ensuring the larger containment systems such as community toilets and public toilets are properly constructed and managed. Also, permission could be granted to new buildings only when the applicants show proper septage construction designs.

 

Moody’s and beyond- The hindu businessline

Background: Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has today upgraded the Government of India’s local and foreign currency issuer ratings to Baa2 from Baa3 and changed the outlook on the rating to stable from positive. The decision was made on the  expectation that continued progress on economic and institutional reforms will enhance India’s high growth potential and its large and stable financing base for government debt. Also it will likely contribute to a gradual decline in the general government debt burden over the medium term.

  • The new improved rating  reflects achievements with respect to both structural reforms and fiscal discipline. The structural reforms include  implementing GST, putting in place an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, and setting up a committee for monetary policy.
  • India requires macroeconomic stability, a uniform indirect tax system etc. to have a competitive economy and attract foreign investment. Therefore steps to formalize the economy by promoting cashless transactions and extending the uses of the Aadhaar platform are integral to this exercise.
  • These steps are likely to  to expand the tax-to-GDP ratio beyond the current level of 16 per cent (Centre and States). Expanding tax base will help to achieve the fiscal consolidation targets of Centre and State as well.
  • There are challenges to the macro economic stability like rising oil prices and irregularity in indirect tax collections as a result of the transition to GST. The Moody’s recent upgrade forces the policymakers not to deviate from the  2017-18 fiscal deficit target of 3.2 per cent of the GDP. Infact, the government should not take policy decisions as per wishes of these firms because they often take a one-size-fits-all view on reforms, market assessments and fiscal policy. Their failure to call out toxic mortgages in the 2008 crisis dented their credibility.