Open Toilets in India is a grim reminder that eliminating open defecation is a critical development goal that the country is far from achieving. More than half the households in the country still lack access to sanitation. In its villages, some toilets built under past schemes exist only on paper. According to Census 2012, 53 per cent of the households do not have access to toilets. Even more striking, close to 50 per cent of the global population who practice open defecation reside in India. People should change their mindset and spare a thought for those who are affected by their acts of poor hygiene.
Open defecation has become so rooted in India that even when toilet facilities are provided, the spaces around temple complexes, temple tanks, parks, pavements, and indeed, any open area are covered with faecal matter. The government must ensure that the toilets being built are well-spaced, illuminated and ventilated ones. Mahatma Gandhiji’s vision of a clean India cannot be achieved by a purely toilet-centric approach to sanitation alone. It is not going to deliver the health benefits that better sanitation should. Our PM’s dream of making India ‘Swachh Bharat’ is resonating well among all groups. One must remember that toilet use by all is a critical development goal that we cannot postpone. It is also important to reiterate that toilet use by all is the stepping stone towards a Swachh Bharat.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)