the historic reasons, it is incumbent now on the governments
of the day to provide this civic facility to the citizen,
as a matter of basic dignity. How can one expect a person
to conduct himself with self-respect and dignity if he is
denied even the facility to defecate in private? It is also
a problem of health and hygiene. A problem for not only the
people inhabiting bastis but also the people in posh neighbourhoods
- one can't even drink a drop of water right off the tap.
of the households in India are without toilets. If we zero
in on Hyderabad there would be about 50% households (about
3.5 lakh) without toilets. All it requires the government
of AP to provide every household with a toilet is approximately
Rs.150-200 crores, a mere two days expenditure of the state.
These are not numbers off my hat. In my village, with government
support we helped build 408 toilets at an average cost of
under Rs 3000/-. We forfeit all claim to being front runners
of the 21st century when we do precious little to stop this
unhygienic and undignified practice.
the rural and urban poor suffer from lack of toilets, the
city and town dwellers (mostly men) with available facilities
also seem to be afflicted with this urge to relieve themselves
in public against the nearest available wall. The argument
extended here is lack of public toilets. While not absolving
the government of its responsibility, it is necessary to bring
such uncivic behaviour to book. It is time the authorities
levied stiff penalties on such public defecators. If Singapore
can enforce civic behaviour, why not Hyderabad? But for it
to work, the public conveniences should be available.
is no use blaming our culture for this. Other countries faced
similar problems. In the UK, the cholera epidemics in the
19th century led to the Great Sanitation Movement and completely
eliminated the scourge of public defecation. It's time we
launched a similar effort.
curious aside, one wonders if our traditional form of greeting
'Namaste' evolved just to avoid shaking hands with unhygienic
people who not only relieve themselves in public, but also
not wash afterwards.