Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The media, whether journalistic or electronic, invariably project India as an emerging economic power in competition with China though in the final analysis the country always comes a distand second compared to its giant neighbor. But if one of the senior Ministers in GOI is to be believed there is one area where Chinese are beaten hollow by Indians. That is practicing open defecation! Read more about the self criticism leveled by the Minister and introspect:

"Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh today described India as the "dirtiest and filthiest" country in the world where people with mobile phones go out to answer the "call of nature". The comment was the latest addition to the minister's repertoire of controversial statements on a gamut of subjects ranging from education and research to sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and sanitation. Ramesh, who last month said open defecation was a "blot" and a "shame", returned to the topic as he highlighted what he called a "paradox". "In one area in which India can claim success in the social sector is education. We can't say the same thing in health, we can't say the same thing in nutrition, we certainly can't say the same thing in sanitation because we do remain the dirtiest and filthiest country," he said. He said around 65 per cent of rural houses had been provided with toilets but didn't use them. "Today, if you go to many parts of India, you have women with a mobile phone going out to answer the call of nature. I mean it is paradoxical," the minister, who also holds charge of sanitation, said at an event here. "You have a mobile phone and you don't have a toilet. When you have a toilet, you don't use the toilet... (but) use it as a godown." Last month he had said it was a "blot" on India and a "shame" on everyone that the country had the highest rate of open defecation in the world. According to a WHO survey, Indians account for 58 per cent of the world's population practising open defecation. China is a distant second, accounting for about 7 per cent".

There are two ways of looking at this startling statement from the Minister. One is his desperation that being the Minister heading the Rural Development portfolio he is not able to do much to improve the situation. The other interpretation can be that he is appealing to the collective conscience of the country with the anticipation that people will reform themselves. The million dollar question is who should be blamed for this sad situation? Government cannot shirk its responsibility for the continued practice of open defecation even after 67 years of independence because one of the prerequisites for using a toilet is plenty of water. Where is the water which poor villagers, most of them situated in drought and dry land areas, can access easily? Even drinking water is at a premium, let alone water for cleaning after defecation! The lamenting Minister must do more than talking in improving the village infrastructure and realize that use of cell phone does not need water!


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