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No toilets for half of India?

December 12, 2007

India may have been the first country in the world to have toilets and a proper sanitation system (Place: Lothal, year: 2500 BC, Indus valley civilization) but today we are the second worst in the world! A survey by WaterAid (international NGO) has ranked India in second place on the list of the world’s worst places for sanitation. Let’s not find comfort in the fact that we are not last on the list, that China is. After all South Asian countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan are 4th and 7th respectively and these countries are poorer than us.

Poor show
WaterAid says that only about 15 percent of rural Indians have access to a toilet and that overall (rural and urban) only about 47 percent of the population has sanitation facilities. Indian government figures say it’s 70 percent (Rural: 48 per cent. Urban: 93 per cent). WaterAid clarifies that their figures show the infrastructure on the ground and not actual usage by people…I guess they would think poorly of places like the chawls of Mumbai where 6-7 families can share a toilet. Anyway, WaterAid does not agree with the government figures for urban India . They feel that the sanitation facilities in urban India have been overestimated because of:

…the large population of slum dwelling and unaccounted for urban populations and their exclusion from formal urban sanitation and sewerage systems…

Update: In the housing census conducted in June 2000, which studied houses, household amenities and assets – as many as 81.8 per cent rural households in Maharashtra and 41.9 per cent urban households do not have toilets. As many as 39.2 per cent households have no drainage lines…but in all this, 24.7 per cent rural households and 70.5 per cent urban households own television sets! However, though the study was conducted in 2000, even today, a city like Pune has just 352 public urinals for a 30-lakh population.

Big plans
India wants to be open defecation-free by 2012 and has increased the funds for the Total Sanitation Campaign by 43 per cent from Rs 7.40 billion in 2006-07 to Rs 10.6 billion in 2007-08. But is it possible? It is estimated that 600 out of 900 million people defecate openly.

The World Toilet Summit (seventh such summit) to find low-cost sanitation methods was held in India in October, and it’s likely that some strategy to solve the problem in India was discussed but details are not available.

Price to pay
Without basic hygiene, civic authorities will always be in constant fear of epidemics and mortality rates (more so amongst children) will continue to be high:

In the developing world, infant deaths, lost work days, and missed school are estimated to have an economic cost of around $38 billion year, with sanitation accounting for 92% of this value.

Some successes!

  • NGO’s like Gram Vikas have built about 2,700 toilets in 361 in poor and mainly tribal areas across 21 districts in Orissa. They hope to take this number to 10,000 in the next year or so.
  • Bindeshwar Pathak, head of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, has built 1.2 million toilets and 6,000 pay-and-use community toilets in over 3,500 Indian towns in the last three decades. Many of these toilets are systems attached to bio-gas plants which use human waste to help produce power.
  • Another group (BORDA – Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association) has been working in this area and has used similar techniques (wet sanitation) while building toilets.
  • As a nation we need to heed a Godman’s (Jaggi Vasudev) advice:

    At every street corner we have built temples, not toilets. A pee is more important than a prayer. It is certainly more compelling than a prayer.

    Physical infrastructure isn’t enough
    All said and done, maintenance is more important than infrastructure. Toilets in India even in tourist spots are not properly maintained and as for public toilets – they stink, if they exist at all.

    The BMC (Mumbai Municipal Corporation) has got this bright idea of getting a self cleaning toilet which can be programmed to automatically clean up after the user has left. Each piece will cost about Rs 4-5 lakhs and the advertisements on it are to pay for the cost and maintenance. But what will the BMC do when people mess up outside of the pot? It’s a common practice here. And it’s not as if people don’t know how to use toilets…they just don’t care.

    (The first picture is by me and the second is from Mumbai Mirror and linked to the original)

    Related Reading: Making profits out of garbage in Chennai
    Successful Bio-gas projects in India
    The shit on our railway tracks

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    53 Comments leave one →
    1. December 12, 2007 10:31 am

      The same state of public toilets in Bangalore as well, it hardly exists, if it does it stinks bad, or no water..

    2. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      December 12, 2007 11:15 am


      //…when people mess up outside of the pot … a common practice here … it’s not as if people don’t know how to use toilets…they just don’t care.//

      It’s not as simple as that.

      1. There is not enough water available to properly clean up.

      2. With public toilets (of the NON-pay-and-use variety) so badly maintained as to become unusable, the intended users have no option but to mess up the place ‘around’ them.

      To say this is not to find fault with your observation about people not caring, but that is more true of toilets in public buildings than in slums and streets.

      Regarding the self-cleaning toilet you mention, I assume 4-5 lakh is just the capital cost. There’s bound to be maintenance overheads. At a very conservative estimate, if half the population of BMC lives in slums and half of them are without toilets (both of these are, I admit, gross underestimates) then toilets are needed for 300 million people. Assuming one toilet per 15 persons (again an unrealistically high rate of use), this means 20 mn toilets — an investment of well over Rs. 10 trillion. Wonder what kind of advertising will help recover that kind of money, and how long it will take.

    3. December 12, 2007 11:35 am

      A friend of mine actually visited the toilet museum in Delhi. Since I’ve found out about Bindeshwar Pathak, I’ve become a fan of his simple but ingenious idea – of solving multiple problems in India with a single solution – composting toilets.

      There’s also this free online book if anyone is interested:

    4. December 12, 2007 12:31 pm

      u might also like to add about london Cholera 1854 which was due to absence of sewage disposal and took a toll of about 2 million lives

    5. December 12, 2007 1:12 pm

      I heard some one jokingly refering to Indian railways as the biggest and longest open toilet in the world ! 🙂 I guess some measures has to be taken to avoid messing the railway tracks especially the tracks at the railway stations !!!

    6. December 12, 2007 1:13 pm

      What about the position in tribal villages where 100% of the houses have no toilets? Once, I visited a tribal village that is located near main road and 7 or 8 KMs distant from town. Few people of the village own TVs and small air coolers but there are no toilets in that village. I walked to stream that flows through outskirts of the village but it was summer and there was little water in the stream. Excreting near water resources causes pollution of water but I had no alternate. Andhra Pradesh government introduced individual latrines scheme and also announced that they are releasing funds for that scheme. Who knows how much of money is really spent for that scheme? Introducing schemes is easy but implementing schemes is difficult for our ruling classes.

    7. December 12, 2007 2:10 pm

      Thanks Rambler. I have heard of the terrible water shortages in Bangalore.
      Vivek, ofcourse what you said is right. Often people use the outside because the actual toilet is filthy because of lack of water. And about advertising covering the cost, ofcourse not all of it can come out of advertising but certainly it will at least help maintain it. The rest has to come out of our money, taxpayers’ money. Now because of reforms, our corporates are also paying more taxes and so are we! However until corruption is wiped out we can only dream!
      Amit, thanks for the link.
      Ankur, thanks.
      Xylene, here is a link to the story I wrote on railway shit. Thanks for bringing it up because now I have added the link to the main post under ‘Related Reading’.
      Proletarian, When the population was small I guess this was okay (people going to the fields) but now our country has become a mass toilet! and as for schemes, the money is eaten up by the scheming politicians!

    8. December 12, 2007 3:36 pm

      @ Nita: I sure hope that the self-clean loo is not the western style commode pictured in your post. In sanitation research, it is known that women empty less than 80% of their bladder in public loos mainly due to hygiene issues because they ‘hover’ over the loo and not use the seat.

      The seat, if not constantly cleaned, is very likely to give women all manner of genito-urinary infections.

      And I have to agree with you about the commons problem. Most public utilities are treated with scant regard or are treated as personal property as in people will take it home.

      My theory is that more than corruption, this lack of public sensibility comes from a deeply ingrained poverty mindset in the general public including the ones who are now loaded with cash.

      On my last trip to India, I went with some friends to Leela Galleria in Bangalore. In the loo, I saw two expensively-dressed women swiping the hand lotion kept by the washbasin. My watching them with a fixed gaze did not deter them and they just kept on talking and laughing as if nothing had happened, even as they proceeded to put the lotion bottles in their handbags. Why blame politicians if our own sensibilities are so terrible?

    9. December 12, 2007 4:02 pm

      Great comment, Shefaly! I agree with you there.
      I always wondered how my female colleagues used toilets where the seats are never fully flippable and therefore wet…. Now I know! 🙂
      *sarcastic mode* Why don’t we have a Department of Toiletry alloyed to the Department of Public Works and Water Supply?
      Stop open defecation by 2012? I will take the wager of defecating in the open with all the photographers on earth, if it happens!
      Last year, a few foreign guests were with me as I was escorting them to the Oberoi in Kolkata. Just opposite their hotel we saw a couple of urchins defecating right there. They were fascinated and awed (perhaps they were merely disgusted and masked it well). I just told them about the problems here.
      I had a mind to do a post on the Toilet conference, but I desisted. It would have got fatal and obnoxious for my long-suffering readers!

    10. December 12, 2007 4:09 pm

      When British colonial rulers took census of India in 1870, population of India was just around 200 million. Now population of India is more than 5 times larger than 1870 census reports. Over population also made India as land of filth. What about huge slum areas like Mumbai’s Dharavi that has around 1 million of population? Those slums emit much more filth than a rural district emits. Rural areas have green fields that make them to look beautiful despite improper sanitation conditions. Urban slum dwellers do not even have that luck.

    11. December 12, 2007 4:31 pm

      @ Rambodoc: Actually my short post on the Toilet Conference got so much traffic that I am still astounded.. You of course contributed many gems too.

    12. December 12, 2007 5:33 pm

      I recall reading a while back of the problems London had with waste prior to getting a sewer system. Over decades, the shit seeped from privys into basements — to say nothing of wells — and in at least one recorded case, reached a depth of five feet.

      By the way, the hygiene reforms towards the end of the 1800s in both Britain and America were largely popularized by a peculiar alliance of activist clergymen and journalists. God and the pen.

    13. anon permalink
      December 12, 2007 7:15 pm

      On my visits to Mumbai I have been troubled as much by the unawareness of the haves as by the filth that pervades the lives of the have-nots.

      While traveling by bus or by local train in the morning, it is common to see men defecating by the side. But I never see women. Where are the women? I always wonder. Even in the midst of misery (a holocaust, in my opinion, even if only of benign neglect), the women suffer more than men.

      At the same time, I wonder what it would take for every family to let their domestic help use the bathrooms in their own homes everyday. That would go some way towards alleviating the tribulations of the “can’t haves”.

      On a tangential note, many customs require “soubhagyawatis” (married women) to be invited for meals to gain punya, perhaps. Why not invite the families of the domestic help and let them have a clean bath and serve them a meal on such so-called auspicious days????

      To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

      – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    14. December 12, 2007 7:26 pm

      Anon: Excellent ideas! I think we had a lot of discussion on this blog on an earlier post about the role of grass-roots action.

      Such practices however do not provide a systemic solution for the billions who may not be working as domestic servants in well-to-do homes…

      I think we in India are quite used to dehumanising people on a daily basis. Plenty of educated people in India keep separate vessels to serve tea and food to their servants. What chance then that they will allow the servants to defecate in their own pristine bathrooms?

    15. December 12, 2007 8:45 pm

      Nita wrote:
      >>I guess they would think poorly of places like the chawls of Mumbai where 6-7 families can share a toilet. Anyway, WaterAid does not agree with the government figures for urban India.>>
      In my town, every middle class house has individual latrine either it is own or rented. Some houses have both attached latrine room and outer latrine room. Mumbai is densely populated city and there might not be enough space available to construct separate latrines for each renting house. People who migrate from villages to cities because of poverty and unemployment prefer cheap accommodation in cities and for them, owners rent houses without individual bath rooms and latrines @ cheap cost.

    16. December 12, 2007 9:19 pm

      After reading your post I can only say Its a real irony that our sanitary system prevalent in India is in such a deplorable form & it becomes more evident when we go across most of the streets in India with stained walls. Its very true even where it is existent maintenance is not done properly…pay & use toilets can perhaps help!

      I think we lack the will in this country. Pay and use will certainly help. At times one wants to go so badly that one is ready to even Rs 10/- for a very clean place! – Nita.

    17. December 12, 2007 9:43 pm

      Shefaly, thanks. I too hope that the toilet is not a western style one as very soon they will find parts of it missing! You are right about the ‘poverty mindset’ – people simply cannot resist stealing whatever they can get, whether they need it or not. Here they often climb on to a western style loo too…so I think they should definitely make it Indian, but you never know about these babus.

      Rdoc, yeah I too highly doubt that they will reach their targets! And the foreign guests, they were disgusted alright! They are just too polite to show it…or perhaps they look at these people like animals in a zoo.

      Proletarian Revolutionary,
      thanks for your comments. By the way, the Sulabh site says that India gives forth a total 900 million litres of urine and 135 million kilos of faecal matter per day! 🙂
      And I have seen some of these shared bathrooms in chawls and they are fairly clean.

      thanks. I guess every country has gone through these problems and now that India is being noticed by the world due to it’s growing economy hopefully we will do something about the sanitation. WIthout that even our tourism will nto grow.

      thanks for those beautiful thoughts but Shefaly has pointed out the practical problems.
      But those at the lowest end of the strata only who don’t have bathrooms. All the maids that have worked for me have been very clean and neat, they come to work only after a bath, with flowers in their hair! Quite a few have a tiny area/bathroom in their small 1-2 room houses. But it’s called a ‘mori’ and is for bath only. For toilet they often use community places very early in the morning. Often some sort of community toilets exist in slums. Those who don’t have to use the streets and the roads, and again the women do it in the dark. Terrible just thinking of it.
      And live-in maids are at times allowed to use bathrooms, but again some prefer to provide separate bathrooms for the maids. In some apartments these facilities exist. Actually rich people want privacy and therefore that is another consideration. MIddle class people have their maids coming in for an hour or two and will never allow their maids to use the bathroom, and will be in fact reluctant to leave them alone in the house.

    18. December 12, 2007 10:30 pm

      Well said: “A pee is more important than a prayer”.

      Hm, I’m kinda curious as to the rankings of Japan (where I grew up) and the Philippines. Japan I can see as being high on the sanitation list and the PI as pretty low. I remember visiting a Filipino family and having to use their outhouse (wooden boards over a hole). But the figures gathered about the PI couldn’t be 100% accurate because they wouldn’t be able to count the Aeta natives that live in the jungle. There’s also shanty towns where there is no plumbing.

    19. December 12, 2007 10:37 pm

      @Mish Lee:

      From what I know of Japan from people who have lived there, Japan is excruciatingly clean! The poorer the country is, the worse it will be, speaking in a very broad and general way. Poverty matters. And then people get habituated to filth…

    20. December 12, 2007 11:38 pm

      Kalyan wrote:
      >>After reading your post I can only say Its a real irony that our sanitary system prevalent in India is in such a deplorable form & it becomes more evident when we go across most of the streets in India with stained walls. Its very true even where it is existent maintenance is not done properly…pay & use toilets can perhaps help!>>

      Pay and use toilets may improve cleanliness near bus stands, railway stations and important junctions of towns but they may not work in slum areas. Poor slum dwellers would prefer open latrines than pay and use latrines. Introducing free service public latrines and maintaining proper cleanliness in those latrines would be better idea for improving sanitation in slum areas.

    21. December 13, 2007 2:18 am

      Ivan Illich wrote a great piece about this very subject.

      It is called H2O and the waters of Forgetfulness and you can find it at this link:

      Thanks 1poetman. – Nita.

    22. December 13, 2007 11:53 am

      In Hyderabad, the municipal corporation inaugurated 130 new public conveniences last October. There was adequate publicity for the conveniences before they came up, along with signs indicating their location and distance. These toilets were a product of public-private partnership and users pay a nominal charge of 2 Rs. Cleaning schedules are posted on the toilets too. According to some reports, there is a steady stream of users.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if open defecation in Hyderabad is eliminated by 2012.

    23. December 13, 2007 12:21 pm

      Vijayawada municipal corporation also introduced public toilets because many people visit Vijayawada as it is major road and rail center of Andhra Pradesh. I don’t know for what extent they improved sanitation in slum areas. Some public latrines were introduced in villages of Andhra Pradesh but they were constructed close to streets where dalits live and those latrines are generating foul smelling to dalit residences and dalits are opposing such practices. Caste politics are played even regarding sanitation.

    24. December 13, 2007 1:40 pm

      one survey puts more television sets per rural household than toilets…

      sulubh swachalya’s in mumbai – the public loos- are quite clean as they are in other metros….

    25. December 13, 2007 2:42 pm

      My maternal grandmother’s village even has enough number of cellphones but there are few latrines in that village. My paternal grandmother lives in a tribal hamlet. There are only 2 televisions and one CD player in that village and no bathrooms are latrines. Even women bath openly at stream that flows near that hamlet. In summer season, the stream has little water flow and it is problem for bathing, washing cloths and cattle etc.

    26. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      December 13, 2007 4:52 pm

      @Proletarian Revolutionary:

      That is a very perceptive observation you made about the location of public latrines near dalit homes. Maybe you’d like to know more about the “dalits among the dalits” who actually work in the sewers. See the following article in the 8 Dec ’07 issue of Tehelka:

      There’s more coming up in the next issue, about the 2.74 lakh litres per day of raw human waste generated on the Indian Railways.

    27. December 13, 2007 8:05 pm

      Proletarian Revolutionary, thanks for your comments and sharing your experiences. A great addition to the post!

      it’s good to hear about Hyderabad and I hope it works. Recently in Pune land earmarked for public toilets was given to eateries….you can guess why! More money to be made for corporators! Even the police will prefer eateries as they can take bribes. They won’t earn much from Rs 2/- per person in a toilet!

      thanks for that very interesting link but I wasn’t quite convinced that mumbai public loos are clean? I have tried the one at churchgate station and found it fairly dirty.

    28. December 13, 2007 9:39 pm

      All major railway stations in India look dirty because of disposal of shit on tracks from train latrines. Stations of villages and small towns look fair because of no shit on tracks. Trains halt for few minutes in those stations and there is little chance for fall of shit from trains. In major stations, trains halt for 10 to 20 minutes. That time is enough to dispose more shit on tracks.

    29. December 14, 2007 5:06 am

      Over the years living in West and India, one thng i have found is we have degraded our ethical and cultural values enormously and now teh problem is so bad that we abuse and have no responsibility towards our public property, whether it is toilets or others.

      Avability of water is a big issue and will be a bigger one in coming decades, why not start using toilet paper tahtw ill save some, but wont solve the real problem.
      SO many factors…
      Lack of infratscructure
      Lack of ownership, ethics and morality towards common cause
      Many more to add…..

      No easy solutions…..
      We need to work on compostie appraoch to fix problems like this which are enormous….

    30. December 14, 2007 5:14 am

      @ Vishal:

      “… why not start using toilet paper…”

      At least the poor can access water; toilet paper has to be bought; Indian sewage systems cannot deal with the amount of used toilet paper that will be flushed down the drains; not to mention the huge environmental cost of using paper where water will do.

      We have discussed this over on my blog in some detail recently:
      the global warming bandwagon

      BTW, most Indian metros have greater water available per capita than cities such as London or Paris, but we have water 24 hours a day where as the less said about Indian water supply conditions in Delhi or Bangalore, the better. And then again one can hardly drink tap water in India without suffering tummy bugs. We have to ask some tough questions re efficiency, infrastructure and investment, don’t you think?

    31. December 14, 2007 5:20 am

      At least the poor can access water; toilet paper has to be bought; Indian sewage systems cannot deal with the amount of used toilet paper that will be flushed down the drains; not to mention the huge environmental cost of using paper where water will do.

      Ditto. I’m not so sold on TP being “better” than water, and it can be argued that using water is probably more hygienic (if followed by washing hands with soap+water) than using TP.

    32. December 14, 2007 7:26 am

      Thanks Proletarian, Vishal, Shefaly Amit.
      Now that Vishal has brought up the discussion water vs toilet paper I cannot resist mentioning a reference that I came across while researching this subject. It’s a detailed and explicit discussion regarding this subject. I felt it was rather crude but it’s funny!

    33. December 14, 2007 10:37 am

      @Shefaly @Amit.
      I suggested toilet paper… because but paper will be recycled…
      and the water from toilets is recycled.
      I presume thinking of these things in India is too far when we are struggling with providing the basic infrastructure…

      To be realistic to this apporach we definitely need some innovative, environment friendly and composite approach.

    34. December 14, 2007 2:45 pm

      Hyderabad municipal corporation even announced to ban urinating in public places. Ban on urinating in public places can be implemented any where is there are enough urinals. I don’t know whether Hyderabad has enough urinals or not. Some years ago, I entered an public urinal in Hyderabad. That urinal was not properly cleaned and generating foul smell. Introducing urinals and latrines is not enough. They should also take care that they won’t disgust people with foul smelling.

    35. December 16, 2007 5:26 pm


      Poverty is one thing and a social sense is another. I have been born and brought up in Chennai, and while I understand the have-nots who will have to defecate in the open because of lack of toilets, I am pretty much annoyed by the all-affording common man who does not think twice before stoping his bicycle or bike by the side of the road to pee. That, is the “worstest” thing about the Chennaites.

      In this aspect, I find Mumbai much better. Since this issue is something that has bothered me very much while in Chennai, I have been observing Mumbaikars and find that atleast the people here have that sense not to make their city a public toilet!

    36. December 17, 2007 6:45 am

      “I have been observing Mumbaikars and find that atleast the people here have that sense not to make their city a public toilet!”
      Then you ain’t seen nothin’!
      Indians have diverse shit, but unified (lack of) toilet habits….

    37. December 17, 2007 7:37 am

      There are total senseless people in India. They also include so called highly educated people. I have seen 2 persons urinating behind post box when I went to drop letter in the box. When I questioned them, they gave irrelevant replies. “What would you do if you don’t see us urinating here?”, “Who suggested you to drop letter in this box?”, “This is not the only post box in this town and go to head post office to post the letter”, “If you don’t like it you need not post the letter”. What are these senseless arguments? These people are living in district head quarter and not in remote village.

    38. December 18, 2007 11:00 pm

      99% of slum dwellers in Delhi do not own individual latrines. Most of the excrete shit in open area, near railway tracks and near Yamuna river. 0.2% of Delhi’s slum dwellers use mobile latrines, 21.7% of them use Sulabh Shouchalayas, 45.2% of them excrete near railway tracks, 32.8% of them excrete in other open areas.

      Source: Social Segregation and Slums – The Plight of Dalits in the Delhi Slums. Authors: Margaret Antony and G. Maheswaran. Published by Indian Social Institute.

      Sanitation in Delhi slums is worse than sanitation in villages. Atleast 15% of the villagers are having individual latrines.

    39. January 28, 2008 6:04 pm

      In India, peeing is a tradition that shows no signs of being eliminated; True to tradition, this. Peeing anywhere, anyplace at anytime is free in India; So much for freedom. Males here do not care, they fancy any damn place to pee and care too hoots if any female or expat is walking by. Perhaps they feel proud of their manliness; they feel like Hercules, expanding their bladders as their muscles expand when they pee in glorious style.

      Be it Lifestyle mall or Country Club or NTR Marg or Lumbini Park or Basheerbagh (opposite flyover when u go to Abids) or Paradise bus stop or Sec bad station (legendary for its stinking urine smell) or Jubilee / Imliban bus stations or airport runway or anywhere in Hyderabad, you can see our great superstars peeing in royal style. It’s high time they are awarded Bharat Ratna or Nobel Prize for their humanitarian acts.

      Look at Country Club or Lifestyle entrance gates, whether u are going in or out, u can find at all times, stalwarts from all walks of life peeing with joy, relieved that their bladders have been relieved from torture. Pretty females and expats walk by and these males have no shame, showing their hard crotch with pride; they never will unless they are whacked behind, fined thousands of dollars and locked up in jail for 5 – 10 days without food or permission to pee. Then only will they mend their ways else they feel they are an ornament to the country and showcasing the special feature of a booming India.

      Hear my fellow countrymen what expatriates have to say about our fad ‘PEEING’
      I take great comfort in the fact that urinating in public is the only thing in India which is completely caste free. Rich and poor men, uneducated and the most intelligent, lower and upper caste men alike have the same lack of shame, the same amount of laziness and the same amount of certain pride to simply open their pants wherever they please. It seems to be the only truly visible sign in India that it is indeed a democracy. – Tina Clemmer
      Men urinate in open spaces all over the world; in Europe men at least seek dark corners or bushes to relief themselves and do so shamefully, at other time they might be in a drunken stupor. But men in Delhi have no shame and they are certainly not intoxicated when they just stop their mopeds in the middle of traffic to piss against a wall. Take a bus trip and see how male passengers do not even bother to walk away from the bus to open their pants. Your headline suggests that men cannot help themselves but use the open road, but how come we see no women lifting their saris everywhere? Obviously they manage to find a toilet or simply hold it until they get home. – Bettina Snyder

      It’s a shame, fellow Indians. Lets all fight this monstrous problem (more terrifying than terrorism) and see to it is wiped out from the face of our map like malaria, Small pox, etc.

      JAI HIND!!!!

    40. Raj permalink
      January 28, 2008 8:55 pm

      I thank Biligiri Rangan for drawing my attention to this post and all others who have contributed their views to get rid of this menace.I shall add my two cents.

      First,I am truly appalled that the lack of toilets is affecting the health of women in our country.I have read horror stories about how the lack of toilets in general,and for girls in particular is affecting the education (and health) of girls in many poorly funded schools across the country.

      Second,every new toilet that is to be built MUST be equipped with automatic cleaning systems and the workers who are assigned to look after the maintenance of the toilets MUST be provided with the latest protective and hygenic clothing and maintenance equipment.I say this MUST be done because I am aware that the most inhuman,nasty,shocking and terrible practice in the world takes place in our country and it is called manual scavenging.If the very word is shocking to hear,there is no word to describe the practice that is still prevalent in many parts across the length and breadth of our country.I have links but I will not post them here because the description and photos in those articles make me ashamed to be called a human being when that is how we treat our fellow humans.And there is no surprise here,all the ‘workers’ involved in this belong to the most oppressed sections of the society.

      P.S.:I thank Vivek for providing the link about the plight of sanitation workers.The condition of those involved in the manual scavenging is as deplorable as those who are involved in cleaning drains.

    41. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      January 28, 2008 9:14 pm


      //…lack of toilets … for girls in particular is affecting the education (and health) of girls in many poorly funded schools across the country.//

      I haven’t visited this post in over a month, so pardon me if I am repeating what someone has already said. Your observation is endorsed by UNICEF’s finding that in many parts of rural India, the dropout rates for schoolgirls surge when they attain puberty, and the absence of toilets becomes an embarrassment for them.

      A small project called Anandshala by an NGO in Gujarat demonstrated that dropout cases did in fact remarkably decline when, among other things, toilets were provided, especially for girls.

    42. Raj permalink
      January 28, 2008 10:15 pm


      Thanks for that information.I checked out the project on the web and was impressed with the fact that dedicated,localised efforts like Anandshala can do wonders to improve the quality of schooling.

      Here is a link to another project in a village that is the first in the country to help schoolgirls.This is related to UNICEF’s finding and is infact assisted by UNICEF.I saw this first on television but I provide the article from ‘The Indian Express’.

      P.S.:I apologise for having incorrectly spelt the name of Biligiri Ranga in my previous comment.

    43. January 28, 2008 10:24 pm

      Raj, check out Sulabh. What you suggest and the issues you highlight are already being tackled by Bindeshwar Pathak and his practical, inexpensive and implementable idea of Sulabh since 1974. So the solution is there – and has been for three decades. What’s needed is more people (like you perhaps?) to get involved and support it. 🙂

    44. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      January 28, 2008 10:53 pm


      Does that mean that Ranga is not Tamizh but Andhra? 🙂

    45. January 29, 2008 6:04 pm

      Glad buddies, u liked my expose on peeing. I am a Kannadiga and a proud Indian, but feel ashamed of my redoubtable fellow Indian pals who brazenly and shamelessly pee wherever they find a vacant space and whenever they like. Even in sleep, they pee, pee and pee. They eat, drink and sleep pee.

      It’s time; a team of civic cops with complete powers across India must be appointed and given the task of pulling up chaps who pee. They should ensure that these heroes are disrobed of their clothes and put in lock up for 1 month without food and drink, (but they cab be permitted to drink their own pee). The chaps must be made to do scavenging work, clean dirty nullahs and streets and wash dirty buffaloes, all of which I am sure will allow sense to enter their dumb heads.

      Those who feel that by peeing they can rediscover their manhood can be asked to sleep with a rhinoceros or a hippo and made to wash their ass. Then they will discover the special charm of peeing. When these chaps open their pants zip and brazenly pee against a wall, they should be caught, made to wash the walls, clean the entire pee zone and asked to contribute to charity. This would deter them to pee again.

      It’s a disgrace that living in 21st century, our fellow Indian pals indulge in acts that has shaken the conscience of all of us. The very image of India is at stake. Is this the image which we should project to expats? Is this the booming India we want the world to talk about? Is this the great superpower in the making that we are exposing to the world?

      We all of us must join hands and whack these shameless chaps hard on their arse, remove their kapada and chase them out of their land. Time to take action; DEEDS count and not mere pithing of words.

      Kindly wake up, fellow Indians and take action to stop this shameless acts by our great heroes who pee without a care for the world. Nip the problem in the bud before it breeds diseases and destroys the image of India. (PS: It has already destroyed India’s image)

      Chak de this peeing menace from our Mera Maha Bharat!

      Jai Hind!!!

    46. Raj permalink
      January 29, 2008 6:28 pm


      Thanks for the links.I went through the sites and found Mr.Pathak’s idea to be great,especially for rural areas.I am in the process of finding out the ways in which I can support them.I registered on the forum to find out more,but I guess that it has not been very active.


      I do not know which Ranga you meant 🙂 ,but thanks for raising the question anyway.

      My full name (first name + father’s name) ends with an ‘a’ and I was born in TN.But my father’s full name ends with an ‘n’ and he was born in AP.Strange,isn’t it? 🙂

      (But then it hardly matters whether we are Tamil or Telugu,since we are all “Madrasis” 😉 And everyone learns from school textbooks that ‘our’ constitution believes that we “Madrasis” cannot be good citizens of the ‘nazion’ because we do not speak the ‘nazi’onal language! 😯 )

    47. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      January 29, 2008 8:27 pm


      I won’t get into the language and “Madrasi” part of your response. I have sworn off it as far as “A wide angle view of India” goes.

      But this whole business of the significance of the presence or absence of the “-n” ending was planted in my head (wrongly, as it turns out) by a Tamil gentleman called Srinivasan whom, at our first meeting, I accidentally addressed as Srinivasa (it was purely a slip of the tongue). He firmly corrected me, adding in a rather sneefing and sarcastic tone that he was a Tamil, not an Andhra or a Kannadiga.

      Of course I know that Tenali Rama (as Andhra as one could get) is also referred to as Tenali Raman. Whether that is another indicator of the Andhra-Tamil divide I don’t know.

      On the other hand I also know a lot of people (mainly English medium types) from even the South who refer to Vijayanagara as Vijayanagaram (confusing it with Vizianagaram). Well, these are all the excitements integral to being part of so much cultural diversity! 🙂 !

    48. Raj permalink
      January 29, 2008 11:12 pm


      I had not given the complete picture in my previous comment.I cannot speak for other South Indians (I will stop the “Madrasi” thing-I apologise as I should have been more sensitive in the first place!),but it turns out that Mr.Srinivasan was right afterall.

      Generally “original” Tamil names end with an ‘n’ if the preceding vowel (using the Roman script) is an ‘a’ and mine is no exception.But since in my family,we put the father’s name before the first name (again this is usually the practice except in recent times,for reasons that I will give),the ‘n’ in my father’s name got dropped because that way it was easier to pronounce in Tamil (that is what they told me when I asked).

      But in recent times,after Tamils decided to give up their surnames because most of them were caste names (surnames seem to be a result of British rule,as Sri Lankan Tamils of Sri Lankan origin 🙂 never had them),we faced huge problems while filling up national and international forms because they ask for the first name,middle name and surname.So now the standard practice is to have the first name and then the father’s name (very recently mother’s name has been legally allowed in place of the father’s name).I,too,had to adopt this system and that is why my full name ends with an ‘a’.But mine is a rare exception and generally what Mr.Srinivasan told you holds good.

      P.S.: And I think Mr.Srinivasan would have mistaken you for one of those arrogant types who murder our names(e.g. Venkataraghavan as Ven-cut-raag-van 🙂 ).I am not defending his impolite behaviour but I guess he did not realise that you were the exact opposite of those arrogant types and that you were a victim of their arrogance yourself! But as you rightly said,this is all a part of our wonderful cultural diversity! 🙂

    49. January 30, 2008 11:14 pm

      Hi! Pals

      Pals, let us stop talking about whether u are a Madrasi or I am a Malyalee or he is a chaprasi. We are all Indians and the first thing we must do is to catch all those rogues peeing (if they pee at their home sweet home, it’s chalta hai). Else, we must make sure that their kapadas are removed and they sent to a dingy prison and made to spend 2 months in lock up with 1 month of community service (making them clean the pee areas, wash the stains of the walls peed and dry clean the peed areas. They must also be made to run 50 kms in their underwear without a stop (even for peeing).

      Time we all must take action and make sure that from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari every area and stretch of our great land is pee-free. There should be no pee strain marks anywhere (a strain will be like HIV strain).

      Our fellow country men do not understand soft language, but understand hard and rough pit patting with heavy punishment. Because their minds are attuned to peeing and we must make sure that their minds are changed, a mindset change is the need of hour across the country.

      Wake up fellow pals, stop fighting and dreaming. It’s time to take action and make sure that our great country is rid of peeing menace once and for all

      C’mon it’s now or never, we all must wipe out peeing by our shamless pals from our great country

      Jai Hind!!!

      Mr Ranga, any more repetitive comments like this will be deleted. – Nita.

    50. January 31, 2008 3:43 pm

      Ma’am sorry if u feel it is repetitive. I apologise

      I just gave vent to my feelings and feel sickened at this shameless habit of ours PEEING, across the country. It has been passed down the generations and we are today in 21st century. Expats and great personalities are coming to India. What will they all think? Is this the India the world is talking about?

      I do hope in all sincerity that this problem will be eliminated and those who flout the rule will be henceforth made to cool their heels in lock up. They need to be made to do community work and then only will they learn never to pee.

      I also advocate the formation of a civic watchdog across India with complete powers to implement civic rules (which should be very strict). Youth can be involved in this and the assistance of NGO’s can be taken up.

      I also feel that apart from providing modern toilets across the country with watchdog personnel to man them, Indian Government must make civic consciousness a compulsory subject in all educational institutions; children must be taught when they start off schooling. In case of uneducated children, NGO’s can take up the task of educating them.

      It’s high time we do something; else India will turn out to the laughing stock of the world.

      Hope something will come out of this and we can see better days ahead.

    51. January 31, 2008 11:02 pm

      “Mr Ranga, any more repetitive comments like this will be deleted. – Nita.”
      What about repetitive peeing?

    52. January 31, 2008 11:13 pm

      Mr. Ranga, the best solution would be to give everyone a bottle and follow the Morarji way. No need of building toilets. 😀


    1. Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist Media » Worst sanitation condition in India

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