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58% of world’s open defecations...
...Occur in India; The Government has sickeningly failed in this basic area

India has some great achievements to share with the world. It is the 9th largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP and the 4th largest when it comes to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). It is also the 2nd fastest growing nation. Behind this glossy picture of economic growth lies a spate of horror stories, and health and sanitation is just one of them. A recent UNICEF survey revealed that around 58% of the world’s population that practises open defecation lives in India – China and Indonesia come a distant second by accounting for just 5% of the world numbers. And then comes Pakistan at a the third spot with 4.5% tied with Ethiopia.

There is no other country in the world where around 60% women have to go to the field for open defecation and this is a crying shame for India. Most Indian women do not have access to proper hygienic defecation. According to the government, it invests $350 million to construct toilets in rural areas every year. However, there are around 638 million people who still rely public spaces to defecate. UNICEF data reveals that even Pakistan has an edge over India when it comes to these issues. In 1990, merely 14% of people in rural India had access to toilets; and the number had gone up to 28% in 2006. During the same period of time, the rural Pakistanis’ access to toilets has gone up from 33% in 1990 to an impressive 58% in 2006.

States like Haryana, Sikkim, Maharashtra and Kerala have shown visible improvements in hygiene but a majority of states are lagging behind. The conditions are so bad that a stretch of 500-km of Ganga between Kannuaj and Varanasi is now nothing but a sewer. This presents a sad commentary on the government’s failure. For a nation that can spend nearly $30 billion annually on defence, it is unforgiveable and criminal to allow such a state of affair to continue for decades post our Independence.


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