Reform 03: A Toilet for Every Home and School by 2019

Thursday, October 02, 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sweeping a street in Delhi (photo: PIB)

It’s not every day that the prime minister picks up a broom and begins sweeping the street. But October 2 is no ordinary day. It’s the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, and Narendra Modi chose this national holiday to launch the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), the most ambitious attempt ever made in India to clean the country and provide sanitation to every household within five years.

It is a daunting task. About 50 per cent of Indians still defecate in the open and the resultant faecal matter often contaminates groundwater resources, putting people at risk of cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid. According to the charity WaterAid, more than 186,000 children under five die every year from diseases caused by unsafe water.

According to the New York Times, there is a direct correlation between poor sanitation and malnutrition. A child raised in India is far more likely to be malnourished than one from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe or Somalia, the planet’s poorest countries. Stunting affects 65 million Indian children under the age of 5 years.

“The difference in average height between Indian and African children can be explained entirely by differing concentrations of open defecation,” said Dean Spears, an economist at the Delhi School of Economics. “There are far more people defecating outside in India more closely to one another’s children and homes than there are in Africa or anywhere else in the world.”

Ramanan Laxminarayan, vice president for research and policy at the Public Health Foundation of India, told NYT: “India’s stunting problem represents the largest loss of human potential in any country in history, and it affects 20 times more people in India alone than H.I.V./AIDS does around the world.”

The government wants every home and school to have access to a toilet by 2019, in time for the 150th anniversary of Gandhi's birth. The father of the nation was known to be finicky about cleanliness and hygiene, so what better way to pay tribute to the Mahatma than by launching a plan to clean India on his birthday, Modi asked. The prime minister promised that “we will have a country where there is not even a speck of dirt in our village, city, street, area, school, temple and hospital".

And he led by example: on Thursday morning he was seen with a broom in hand, sweeping clean a part of a street in Valmiki Nagar, the largest sweeper colony in Delhi.

According to BBC News, India's four million federal government staff were "requested" to come to work by 9 am on Thursday and take a "cleanliness pledge", promising to devote at least 100 hours every year - or two hours a week - to cleaning up. They were expected to then pick up a broom and begin cleaning their offices and toilets.

But the government’s decision to make all its staff work on Thursday has not gone down well with everyone, since Thursday was meant to kick off a five-day holiday weekend, with the Hindu festival of Dussehra falling on Friday and the Muslim festival of Eid on Monday.

"A lot of the staff are resentful at missing out on the long weekend - people had made holiday plans in advance, booked flights and train tickets," an unnamed senior bureaucrat told the BBC.

Building a toilet for every home and school is expected to cost around 620 billion rupees ($10.3 billion) - the government has earmarked 146 million rupees ($2.4 million) and expects to get the remaining amount from the corporate sector and international development organisations.

But just building toilets is not enough, with several areas in its cities having been turned into open urinals, and towns choking under mounds of garbage. Many rivers, including the sacred Ganga, have been turned into open sewers, with raw sewage from homes and factories being emptied directly into it. Most Indians also don't think twice before littering and spitting in public.

A complete change in societal attitudes is required. And Modi’s move to bring sanitation to the front of the nation’s consciousness might just do the trick.

- Karan Singh

To Learn More:

Modi aims to shake up sanitation with Clean India drive (by Rupam Jain Nair, Reuters)

Indian officials ordered to take up brooms on day off (by Geeta Pandey, BBC News)

Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition (by Gardiner Harris, New York Times)

15 diseases India can stamp out by improving sanitation (by Sanchita Sharma, Hindustan Times)

India's 'toilet guru' works to flush away open defecation (AFP)


Satish Chandra 9 years ago
Mother-Chods like Modi are always defaming India, such as through the Swachha Bharat campaign, as if the Indians don’t know the importance of cleanliness and need the help of Obama and company to learn it. This is what I wrote a few months ago: “(NOV 20 ‘13) The headlines scream “Open Defecation” by the majority of Indians on World Toilet Day. Going to the fields is the most environmentally friendly way to defecate. Lake Ontario which supplies Toronto’s drinking water is heavily polluted from fecal bacteria from flush toilets whose health effects are ignored. Cleanliness procedures of Indians from Yoga to daily life -- Indians expressed shock that the University of Chicago president’s wife put a spoon which she had just put in her mouth to taste a dish she was preparing back in the pot to stir it and I replied “That’s why they are called dirty Jews” -- are the most stringent in the world. The environmental and health effects -- from water requirements to pollution of water bodies -- of flush toilets on India will be devastating. Without first establishing dominance via emplaced nuclear warheads (below), snatching entire continents from the white man after killing the existing population, India cannot be dominant in health and sanitation.” India’s slavery is the result of Indians killed by the tens of millions and its centers of learning destroyed. India has to kill Americans by the hundreds of millions and destroy Harvard, Yale and all American centers of learning and research. All IAS and IFS people by training work for the CIA and should be replaced by RSS cadres. ""India's greatest scientist and greatest living Indian publicly tortured in Harvard seminar, systematically and totally starved for up to 3 weeks at a time, made semi-starved and homeless and even blind for years, kept under 24-hour audio and video surveillance as well as surveillance of [and interference with] communications and electrical typewriter and computer use, document creation and photocopying, etc., by satellite for more than past 3 decades, systematically harassed and in poverty and neutralised and robbed of his work at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars per year, robbed of crores in his money and property in India by C.I.A.-RAW, forced back into exile in the U.S., all with full cooperation and participation of India's RAW and India's C.I.A.-RAW-controlled prime ministers, politicians and media -- to keep India poor, weak and enslaved" and how this means the nuclear destruction of New Delhi and then the coast-to-coast destruction of the U.S.; see my blog titled 'Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.' which can be found by a Yahoo/Google search with the title; my biography can be found in Marquis' Who's Who in the World, 2014 and earlier editions." In the past few years I have had India's nuclear forces emplace India's nuclear warheads in Washington, New York and other U.S. cities, ready to be exploded. Simultaneously destroying Washington, New York and New Delhi (RAW headquarters, South Block and North Block) with a warning that additional U.S. cities will be similarly destroyed, with nuclear warheads already emplaced in them, if there is any retaliation or sign of retaliation, will immediately make India the supreme military and economic power in the world even before implementing my proposal about money which can make India’s economy grow 30% per year or more. In a letter dated July 27, 1982 to Indira Gandhi as prime minister I referred to an act, by American Jews, that was “the equivalent of an annihilatory nuclear first strike on India”. In her reply dated July 29, 1982 she wrote “Dear Mr. Chandra, I have received your letter dated July 27, 1982 and am passing it on to my Principal Secretary to deal with it. Sincerely, Indira Gandhi”. In December, 1982 I wrote to her “There was sudden, terminal, overwhelming violence against me during a seminar at Harvard University and rather similar occurrences earlier… India can expect sudden, annihilatory violence … with nuclear weapons … against its population … unless it can mount a decisively superior force to stop it”. Following my advice, India’s strategic program, including the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and the Centre for Advanced Technology, was started to give India victory in a nuclear war with the United States and because of my influence on her, Indira Gandhi as prime minister was assassinated by CIA-RAW and later when Rajiv Gandhi realized the truth of what I had written to her after the American invasion of Iraq which was the first Gulf War, he was also assassinated by CIA-RAW. In the past few years, I have had India’s nuclear forces emplace nuclear warheads in Washington, New York and other U.S. cities and India is now in a position to destroy the United States without being destroyed. In fact, India is in a position now to destroy the United States without itself suffering a single casualty by triggering its nuclear warheads emplaced in Washington and New York with a warning that additional U.S. cities will be similarly destroyed if there is any retaliation or sign of retaliation. Goonda Modi and his Cabinet are determined to keep India in slavery. This will not be allowed. An eBook on the above can be found on Amazon by searching for “Death of America by Satish Chandra”.

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