Indians reprimanded for pooing on Taj...

Indians reprimanded for pooing on Taj Mahal

Posted in the Australia Forum


Sydney, Australia

#1 Feb 1, 2013
Every day we read about 8% economic growth. 10% economic growth. Predictions are being made of a richer, brighter future. While in reality more than half of India doesn’t even have access to toilets. We must constitute 50% of the world’s population which defecates in the open.

Exposed, untreated excrement can kill by the million. One of the hardest-won UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a 2015 target of halving the proportion of those without sustainable access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. Even if achieved, the target would still leave some 500 million on the planet without this basic requirement for survival and dignity. As many as 79 per cent of rural and 46 per cent of urban Indians have no access to improved sanitation. Of the 40 per cent of global population (some 2.6 billion people) forced to defecate in the open, some 665 million are Indians.

Diarrhoea claims 5,000 children every day worldwide, most of them on this subcontinent. The loss in lives, work days and school attendance (particularly by girls) is estimated at $38 billion per year.

Water and sanitation are inextricably linked: without sanitation, safe water cannot remain safe.“Access” is a key word with a variety of interpretations. In planning circles, targets are set in terms of coverage.“Coverage” is normally measured by the number of latrines, hand-pumps, water pipes and sewerage systems installed. Whether these are functioning, properly used and well-maintained is quite another matter.

100,000 tons of human excrement that Indians leave each day in fields of potatoes, carrots and spinach, on banks that line rivers used for drinking and bathing and along roads jammed with scooters, trucks and pedestrians. 75 percent of the country’s surface water is contaminated by human and agricultural waste and industrial effluent.

My recent train trip in India was the six AM Shatabdi Express to Jaipur. The sun rose late on that December morning, illuminating hundreds of men squatting in the fields next to the tracks, mile after mile, their asses towards the train, pooping on the same ground hundreds of men had pooped on every single day before.

Men only. Modesty forces women to poop in the fields before sunrise, or to hold it until after the sun sets.

This is the practice across India and the sanitary ramifications are staggering. Poop is a vector for bacteria and viruses, and it attracts insects and rodents that are equally unhealthy. People poop faster than Mother Nature can degrade it, which means people who poop in the same place day after day will inevitably come into contact with festering feces. A speck of poop on a shoe gets touched by a hand that passes a glass of water to a two-year-old: that’s how disease spreads.

Why do people poop in the fields? For some, it’s because they’re ignorant of hygiene and bacteriology; for others, it’s because they’re too poor to have any other choice.

75 percent of the country’s surface water is contaminated by human and agricultural waste and industrial effluent. Everyone in Indian cities is at risk of consuming human feces, if they’re not already, the Ministry of Urban Development concluded in September. The toll on human health is grim. Every day, 1,000 children younger than 5 years old die in India from diarrhea, hepatitis- causing pathogens and other sanitation-related diseases, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Too bad that there isn’t a Nobel prize in the Dirt and Filth category. India would have added one more to its pitifully small collection of Nobel prizes. Minister of the Gandhi realm, Jairam Ramesh, said at a recent public event,“Our cities are the dirtiest cities of the world. If there is a Nobel prize for dirt and filth, India will win it, no doubt.”

One would be hard-pressed to disagree with the claim since India is indeed dirty and filthy beyond reason. It says something about the culture of the people.

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