Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Great Indian Lavatory

We, Indians, must have heard/read/uttered this slogan a million times in our lifetime. "Kashmir se Kanyakumari tak Bharat ek hai" (India is One from Kashmir to Kanyakumari). The interesting question is, India is one what between its northern and southern ends? (Kashmir se Kanyakumari tak Bharat kya hai?) I was pondering over it for quiet sometime now, and at the stroke of midnight on August 15 2005, finally got my answer. The next three months, I spent in finding evidence supporting that semi-serendipitous discovery. And now I can say with fair amount of certainty that, "Kashmir se Kanyakumari tak Bharat ek Latrine hai". Don't be alarmed, as I was, when I finally hit the answer at the stroke of midnight on 15th August 2005. I have conclusive proof in support of it, and I am sure that by the time you reach the end of this article, you will be fairly convinced.

Some might argue that Latrine is a metaphor. I call India that, because of the scum that is a part of our society. It is not just politicians and bureaucrats, but ordinary professionals who cheat government, public service officials who extract bribe for doing what they are paid for to do, our police who can catch anybody and make him confess that he/she is a dreaded terrorist, some of our sportsperson who take money for losing and drugs for winning, corporates and filmstars for whom the concept of ethical business practice is alien, our religious leaders who spread hatred and murder instead of love and joy, etcetra etcetra, all form a part of that great scum. Agreed that they are no worse than scum, and since these kind of people are so disproportionately high in number in any sample space of our people, India can be easily compared with a great lavatory. That is one way of looking at things.

But I had something else in mind. There are at least 100 million people who releive themselves in the open. With an area of 3.2 million, that comes to 31 people per square kilometer. Since, 90% most of this activity is spread during first 8 hours of the day, we have 4 Indians every hour doing it in the open. Interestingly the great Indian Railways is not only the worlds largest employer, and one of the world's largest rail network, the track laid down by it also holds the record of being the world's largest open restroom. The walls of any building in our cities, form a permanent venue for doing you-know-what. Any bus-stand or railway station has a public toilet. But people tend to use every bit of land but the toilet, to do what the toilet was meant for. So, what do we do with these statistics?

What is needed is a nicely implemented grand scheme for improving public hygiene in our contryside and urban slums anda mass awareness campaigns. The concept of sulabh sauchalaya is great, but till now it is limited only to urban areas.

But a moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when the long suppressed scum of the society is washed away in the great flush in the pan. Till then, lets keep wrtiting such pieces and wait for that great flush.


At 5:25 am, Blogger CtrlAltDel said...

haha...well written...

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