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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

‘JAM trinity’ helped outreach, finds global goals awards report

The report showcases India’s pioneering “JAM trinity” that stands for Jan Dhan Yojana to help the poor open bank accounts, Aadhaar to provide every Indian with a biometric-authenticated unique identity number, and mobile phones that helped monitor quality and increase the reach of services to the poor.

india Updated: Sep 19, 2019 03:44 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of Gujarat Vijay Rupani hold a poster at a public meeting along with Governor of Gujarat Acharya Dev Vrat, and Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat, Nitinbhai Patel, at Kevadia, in Gujarat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of Gujarat Vijay Rupani hold a poster at a public meeting along with Governor of Gujarat Acharya Dev Vrat, and Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat, Nitinbhai Patel, at Kevadia, in Gujarat (ANI)
         

Geography and gender are the biggest drivers of inequality, which can be addressed with smart policies built around digital technology that improves both the quality and reach of government services, said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual Goalkeepers Examining Inequality 2019 report that tracks global progress in meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The report showcases India’s pioneering “JAM trinity” that stands for Jan Dhan Yojana to help the poor open bank accounts, Aadhaar to provide every Indian with a biometric-authenticated unique identity number, and mobile phones that helped monitor quality and increase the reach of services to the poor.

Creating sanitation infrastructure as part of the flagship Swachh Bharat Mission, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be awarded at the Goalkeepers event next week, is helping India meet SDGs, according to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It has helped India make progress in areas of health, nutritional status, gender equity by keeping girls in school, reducing poverty, and providing people a life of dignity, the foundation said.

“A World Health Organization (WHO) estimation of the potential health impacts of Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) in 2018, on the request of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, found it averted at least 300,000 deaths and more than 14 million DALYs (disability-adjusted life years, which is a measure of lost productivity) between 2014 and October 2019,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, South East Asia regional director.at the World Health Organisation.

About 199 million cases of diarrhoea were reported annually before the start of the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission in 2014, according to the WHO assessment report. A lack of access to sanitation causes many diseases including faecal-oral infections such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, helminth infections and insect-vector diseases such as lymphatic filariasis and trachoma, which indirectly lead to malnutrition, stunting, anaemia, and frequent infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia because of lowered immunity.

“Swachh Bharat is a game-changer intervention for improving public health outcomes. Eliminating open defecation and providing sustainable sanitation systems interrupts transmission of several infections and leads to an overall reduction in diarrhoea deaths, pneumonia deaths and worms infestations, which has accelerated a decline in child mortality and undernutrition. This had also been observed in the recently concluded comprehensive national nutrition survey,” said Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

Toilets also provide dignity, and gender equality improves women’s access to social, healthcare, educational and financial services. “The other broader impacts on well-being are related to stress and anxiety of having to defecate in the open, sexual assault where public facilities are used, and adverse birth outcomes if healthcare facilities have poor sanitation. These issues are likely to lead to girls dropping out of school, reduced productivity, and poverty from illness and related catastrophic expenditure,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh.

The gender gap in access to education and services exists in every country, with women globally doing three times more unpaid care work, which is currently valued at $10 trillion per year. Goalkeepers Examining Inequality report cites the reform of cooking gas subsidies under the Ujjwala Yojana in India to demonstrate how aligning technology and policy creates a beneficial domino effect that helps people access financial and social services, secure rights like voting, and seize economic opportunities, like registering businesses.

Globally, one billion people lack basic proof of ID, and as many as half of the world’s population lacks IDs, with only 55% of women being able to prove their identity compared to 70% of men in low-income countries. Aadhar changed that, and the ID brought with it a positive multiplier effect.

“The government [of India] understood early on that technology made it possible to connect directly with citizens instead of working through layers and layers of bureaucracy. Then it started creating smart policies built around digital technology that improved both the quality and reach of government services,” said the report.

“In an analog world, government benefits reached poor people through an inefficient network of intermediaries. In a digital world powered by the JAM trinity, the government can reach people directly — and people can reach back,” said Arshi Aadil, manager, government and social impact, MicroSave Consulting, who has done a report on reforms in India’s cooking gas programme that has morphed into the world’s largest cash transfer programme for women.

The reform chipped away at discriminatory gender norms, which led to the average woman in India spending at least 40 hours per week doing unpaid domestic work. Using cooking gas saves women several hours per day they had been spending gathering firewood, and cooking over fires that made them and their family ill.

The Ujjwala Yojana disrupted traditional power dynamics by reaching out directly to women. “Unlike with traditional benefits programmes in India, it is women — and not their husbands — who are eligible for Ujjwala. To receive the gas subsidy, women need to sign up for a bank account. Merely having and using bank accounts changes women’s lives, by giving them decision-making power over the family’s finances,” said the report.

The report also highlights massive inequalities between districts within countries, including in India. In Kollam district of Kerala, 1% of young children die, and the average person has more than 14 years of education, which is comparable to many developed countries. By comparison, in Uttar Pradesh’s Budaun district that is home to four million people, more than 8% of children die, and the average person has approximately six years of education.

“If we are serious about the SDGs, then we have to accelerate the fight against geographical inequality and make sure that more districts are excelling like Kollam and Ado-Ekiti [a Nigerian city],” said the report. In Nigeria, an average person in Ado-Ekiti has more than 12 years of education, compared to five in Garki in Jigawa state.

“Some pessimists warn that technology will usher in a dystopian future. Some naïve optimists predict it will create a utopia. The truth lies somewhere in between. Technology is disruptive, and countries need to invest to maximize the positive disruptions and manage the negative ones,” write Bill & Melinda Gates, co-chairs of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in their annual report.