“Toilets were more important than temples”

Jairam! I am ashamed to hear it from an IITian. No, I should not have been so. You don’t have any respect for even your IIT either. Before going ahead, let me ask, why didn’t you use another word ‘mosques’ too. Have you the guts to do that?

It pains when a person who could have been an icon for youngsters makes such a childlike remark that “toilets were more important than temples.”

Open defecation is a curse and a shame for the nation. Why should one go to rural side to see it? Why Jairam is not focusing on the NCR townships and the capital itself? There are pockets right in New Delhi perhaps very near he resides where all the migrants defacate in open in the darkness of early morning. Perhaps that is one reason for them to get up early. I live in Sector 41 of Noida. I can’t walk up to the market of Sector 30. The service lane towards the railway housing complex is the free place for the defecation of those who don’t have any toilet to use. The rich Noida Authority doesn’t provide any toilet facility even in big parks and market complexes and wherever there are, those just so shabby and filthy that any respectable person can hardly use. And can Jairam fist see that all the schools in the region get good toilets and drinking water facilities? As I remember, Mumbai may be worse.

I still remember our visit to Khajuraho in 1998 vividly. As usual I had got up early and gone out for walk up to the temple complex. The Khajuraho village was very near, I thought of seeing it from the nearer quarter. I kept on walking towards the village. Very soon I found the grown up girls and women defecating in open and many still going out in full daylight. I felt ashamed to go any further and returned. I don’t know if it had changed today.

In 2007 we went from Noida to my village and went to Gaya for the rituals of ‘pinddan’ for the ancestors. Right near the main temple on the bank of the river, when the priest took up inside, it was full of human etcetera. I came back. And similar was the condition around the tank of a place called Dev near Aurangabad where we had gone for celebrating Chhuth as my mother wanted that. The place was just full of human excretion.

Naturally, the situation in rural India that I know is in horrible state. One can see it during the train journey or while passing through the roads in the small towns and villages. It’s shame for the nation. Unfortunately even the huge organization such as Indian Railways can’t implement already available and proven technology that could have made country a little better.

The mission to end open defecation is great a great one. Jairam would have appealed to all the religious shrines with a lot of followings to participate in the mission. The shrines can educate the followers. And the education is essential. The shrines can take up the projects to construct and maintain the toilets with the donations of the community. Many rich shrines can accelerate the task.

Jairam must involve the community, the panchayats, the NGOs, the philanthropists, the religious leaders, the educational institutes and teachers and the business community and its associations to participate and contribute in the campaign of Nirmal India.

However, the most important is the right design of the toilets for varying locations and its regular maintenance. Let the country appreciate that a country is judged by the cleanliness of the toilets it maintains for its citizens.

I still wish India gets succeeds to end the open defecation in the next ten years if not earlier.

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