More than 620 million Indians, yes a part of our country whichhas lavish Italian lavatories for many, defecate in the open. This means that every second Indian citizen has an extra task every day, which takes him/ her miles away from home, where no pipelines take away the former waste, access to water is almost absent, and washing of hands is overlooked. We discuss about food security, access to clean drinking water, elevating commodity prices, and GDP; however when a political leader in the recent past spoke about the vitality of access to toilets, every other person criticized his viewpoint. Hardly noticed, this grave concern produces plentiful problems.
As per the Water and Sanitation Program Report, the economic impact of poor sanitation in India is almost INR 2.44 trillion per year, which is equivalent to 6.4 percent of India’s GDP in the year 2006. Even when you leave apart the economic domain, inadequate sanitation is not less than the most evil curse for thesocial sphere. Lack of toilet facilities is one of the most significant sponsors of malnutrition due to microbial contamination. In the same context, the UNICEF says that post contact with excreta if hands are properly washed with soap diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections can be lessened by 40 percent and 30 percent respectively.
What recently happened in the village of Katra Sahadatganj, Badaun fetched the courtesy of many. While almost everyone was pleading for justice for the hanged Dalit girls, no one cared to notice what Guddo Devi, relative of the dead, revealed.According to her, the women of her village always move in pairs for defecation so as to avoid any illicit assaults from men. The two girls were not lucky enough to escape the mishap. Pick a newspaper, or just search about rapes in India on Google and you would come to know that almost half of them owe their happening to lack of proper toilets for women in villages. Still, hardly anyone pays heed to the subject.
Plus, isn’t it a shame that a country which competes with developed nations in terms of GDP and PPP has people who unhesitatingly excrete in the open, along with those rich men who take their pets for walks and let them defecate on the roads or in the parks? It is not that the Indian governments have been blind at this concern. Subsidies are provided for building toilets and for running sanitation and hygiene programmes. The government even introduced a scheme of awarding those village councils which succeed to stop defecation in the open. Vital to note, Kerala came out as the best player with almost 87 percent of its councils grabbing the reward.
The ‘No Toilet, No Bride’ campaign of the former Union Government could have brought in some positive outcomes in case only a minimal part of India had suffered from the concern of open defecation. With almost half of Indians who have nil access to lavatories, such schemes can rarely prove fruitful. The new and vibrant Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, who said ‘Toilets first, temples later’, seems to be the only person whotruly is concerned. Funding the construction of toilets, bringing in newer and economical technology from abroad, publicizing aclear and strong message to Gram Panchayats, and such other quick actions are much-needed.