The solution to India’s sanitation crisis must draw from an array of disciplines, creating a dynamic model that incorporates aspects of infrastructure improvement, the promotion of public health initiatives, and an educational component that is supplemented by a pervasive media campaign to change the public sentiment regarding open defecation. Such an approach looks to attack a variety of the underlying causes of India’s current situation. However, even the most efficacious model needs strict oversight to ensure that the large sums of money and effort allocated for such programs are used properly and ensures that its provisions are implemented in the manner in which they were designed. Implementation is arguably the biggest challenge India faces in its fight for sanitation.
The government of India (GOI) has two options; it either must follow through and enforce its current policies regarding sanitation (i.e. the Central Rural Sanitation Programme, the Total Sanitation Campaign, etc.) in order to reach its attainable goal OR overhaul them, decentralizing regulation and allowing Gram Panchayat (local government) officials to develop solutions that meet the unique needs of their particular community. Management and oversight of massive legislative efforts is difficult considering India is one of the largest countries in the world, necessitating one of the largest bureaucracies. This makes it a challenge to reach remote, impoverished regions and ensure compliance.
It is virtually impossible for such national legislative initiatives to affect some of the deeply held cultural predispositions and practices of various communities solely due to their remote locations and seclusion from mainstream Indian politics and society. Furthermore, media access and presence in these villages is not ubiquitous enough to instill the necessary dogmatic changes. This is yet another argument for the delegation of sanitation responsibilities to local entities. If the Indian government is unwilling to depute responsibility and capacity for solving the sanitation crisis, it will need to develop alternatives that can account for the idiosyncratic issues that inhibit the implementation of adequate sanitation systems in communities across the country.