Now we have entered the second decade of the 21st century. It sounds like a lot and of course, with time mankind is progressing and the whole world is developing. Still however there are many countries where you wonder whether this progress and development has forgotten about some areas, some parts of the country and some parts of life. Of course we were talking a lot about such things with my friends who are in India for the first time. We talked about effectiveness and cleanliness, about how people work and how people build but also about the very simple things of life, for example where people go for shitting if they don’t have a toilet.
India may have made great development especially in the IT sector and some of the smartest business men come from here. India’s best doctors work all over the world and people even travel here for getting their surgery done. But don’t be surprised, in this country which is progressing so much, if you see people sitting and shitting at the side of the road. Completely unabashed women and men hold their buttocks over a ditch, often happily chattering with each other while letting it flow. It is a very common sight and for many people a daily ritual out in nature.
In India, 700 Million people have mobile phones but only 360 Million people have toilets! With India’s population of a bit over a Billion people, this makes about 35% of the population of India. 65% of the population do not have a toilet and go out to do their business outside. In rural areas this percentage is even more. There, only up to 26% people use toilets. I would love to say that the rest of them goes out in nature but unfortunately this is not entirely true. Development has brought too many tarred streets and paved ways. For many people the drain on the side of the road is the place to go and squat down. This is what they teach their children.
You can imagine what the consequences are. Not only does it look ugly to see the sewage just at the side of the road but there are serious health consequences, too. Think of those people who don’t have access to cleansed and filtered drinking water. Think of bacteria and pollution, of infections and diseases. The biggest reason for child death in India are infections and unfortunately polluted drinking water is one of the causes.
This all happens in the country of 69 billionaires. Again, I would also say that money is spent in the wrong ways. India is a religious country and if we could just spend as much money on building toilets as is spent on building temples, a big change could come into this country. People have a big budget to spend on religious rituals, why don’t we spend some more money to make our daily ritual a bit more comfortable and healthy?
In our school we also try to teach poor children hygiene. They learn to wash their hands, they tell their parents that water and milk has to be cooked before they can drink it and many more small precautions. Keeping the place where you live clean is the main thing to save you from infections and bacteria. Unfortunately however the sewage and toilet problem is not a priority in government policies and peoples’ minds.
I have the hope however that we will further develop and some day there will be nobody sitting at the side of the road for doing his job.