Friday, November 18, 2011

India & Pakistan Off-Track, Off-Target on Toilets

India will not reach its Millennium Development Goal on sanitation before 2047, while Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal will not achieve the target before 2028, according to a United Nations report released on the eve of World Toilet Day 2011.

The WaterAid report titled "Off-track, off-target: Why investment in water, sanitation and hygiene is not reaching those who need it most" says that 818 million Indians and 98 million Pakistanis lack access to toilets. It also reports that 148 million Indians and 18 million Pakistanis do not have adequate access to safe drinking water.



The five countries with the largest absolute numbers of people without sanitation – India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan – are all middle income and account for over 1.7 billion people without sanitation.



The report points out that the budgets allocated for water and sanitation improvements in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have been extremely low. Public spending on water and sanitation accounts for 0.45% of gdp in India and only 0.20% of gdp in Pakistan. Some of the shortfall has been made up by official development assistance, particularly for India which has been among the top aid recipients every year since 2000. However, a recent report from the Comptroller and Auditor General in India identified US$2 billion of unspent aid money in 2010. Although detail has not been available beyond a reference to weak planning, the India case study confirms that financial absorption is a problem that has affected the Total Sanitation Campaign in certain states. In Uttar Pradesh, only 63% of the funds released were used in 2005-06, although that improved to 83% in 2006-07. Findings from Chhattisgarh highlight the slow release and use of centrally available funding, with over half of the 16 districts experiencing delays in opting for the second installment. The research shows that the reasons for the low utilization include: states unable to match central government grants, deficiencies in the process of decentralized planning, shortages or short tenure of key staff, delay in the flow of funds, as well as multiple reporting requirements.

Earlier in October this year, India's rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said his nation's rivers have been turned into open sewers by 638 million Indians without access to toilets. He was reacting a UNICEF report that said Indians make up 58% of the world population which still practices open defection, and the sense of public hygiene in India is the worst in South Asia and the world.

WaterAid calls the current hygiene situation a "global crisis" and cites the following statistics:

I. 884 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly one in eight of the world's population. (WHO/UNICEF)

II. 2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, this is almost two fifths of the world's population. (WHO/UNICEF)

III. 1.4 million children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unclean water and poor sanitation - 4,000 child deaths a day or one child every 20 seconds. This equates to 160 infant school classrooms lost every single day to an entirely preventable public health crisis. (WHO/WaterAid)

Solving this serious problem in developing nations is not going to be easy. It can not be done by simply replicating the western toilet for the vast majority of the poor in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. It will require creative thinking.

One example of creative thinking is Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak of Sulabh International in India. He has developed a simple, low-cost toilet which costs approximately Rs. 700 and could be installed anywhere, including villages without any plumbing. This toilet uses only 1.5 liters of water for flushing as against 10 liters by a conventional toilet. The toilet “system” consists of two pits: when the first one fills up, it is closed and the other one is used. The closed toilet dries up in two years when it is ready to be used as fertilizer and for conversion into biogas for heating, cooking, and generating electricity.

Another example is Dr. M. Sohail Khan, a professor from Pakistan currently working at UK's Loughborough University, who has received a grant from Gates Foundation. He and his research team are developing a toilet that produces biological charcoal,minerals, and clean water to transform feces into a highly energetic combustible through a process combining hydrothermal carbonization of fecal sludge followed by combustion. The process will be powered by the heat generated during the combustion phase and will recover water and salt from feces and urine.

Gates Foundation is funding research grants under "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge" program to develop a low-cost, no-flush toilet for the masses. In an interview on Public Radio, Dr. Frank Rijsberman of Gates Foundation explained it as follows: "We are asking people to come up with a toilet that does not flush, you know, clean water down an expensive set of pipes to get into a waste water treatment plant where we're spending even more energy and money to get that waste out again. We'd love for people to have what we sometimes call the cell phone of sanitation, an aspirational product that actually recovers resources from waste. There's a lot of energy in human waste. There is nutrients there, and we'd love to find a way to reuse those directly without relying on flushing your waste down the drain with clean drinking water."

I believe that the key to eventually solving the sanitation crisis in the developing world lies in the success of research and development efforts sponsored by organizations like Gates Foundation and Sulabh International.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India Leads the World in Open Defecation

Fixing Sanitation Crisis in India

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Heavy Disease Burdens in South Asia

Peepli Live Destroys Indian Myths

India After 63 Years of Independence

Poverty Across India 2011

India and Pakistan Contrasted

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

The eminent writer and Congress MP, Mr Shashi Tharoor, on Thursday did some plain talk on India’s global aspirations and said the country was ‘super-poor rather than a superpower’.

Talking to BBC presenter, Ms Anita Anand, on ‘India and China — The New Superpowers,’ Mr Tharoor said he would rather describe the two countries as being on the way of becoming significant powers.

“A superpower is a political, economic and military giant that has global reach,” he said. “The US still holds that position. It can fight a war in East Asia or any other part of the world. But I can’t imagine China or India doing that.”

He added that a large chunk of India’s people did not get three meals a day, had no roof to sleep under and were unable to educate their children. “We still haven’t solved these basic problems,” he said. “So we can’t claim to be a superpower.”

Mr Tharoor, an ace diplomat, added that he would much rather live in a world without superpowers. “In fact, I am penning a book on the theme of a network of countries, a multi-polar world, drawing on the metaphor of the Internet,” he said.

The MP said he felt awful when he heard the Western coinage ‘Chindia’ to refer to the two aspiring superpowers. “Though we are neighbours, we don’t have much in common,” he said. “There is ignorance, indifference and hostility towards India in China.”

There was not much soft diplomacy in terms of people-to-people contact and tourism to create more awareness of each other either, he added.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/nation/south/india-super-poor-not-superpower-says-shashi-tharoor-244

Pavan said...

Thanks. This has not been covered in the media here. Pavan
PS Are you doing a post on the latest HDR or did I miss it?

Riaz Haq said...

Pavan: "Are you doing a post on the latest HDR or did I miss it?"

I did one about the positive impact of urbanization on human development in Pakistan.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/11/karachis-high-human-development-index.html

Riaz Haq said...

Sanitation disastrous in India: Jairam Ramesh in Zee News:

New Delhi: Accepting that development of sanitation facilities in the country has been a "disaster", Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Wednesday suggested enhanced government funding to deal with the issue.

"Sanitation is the biggest blot on the human development portfolio in India. The sanitation situation is disastrous," said Ramesh speaking at the release of UN Human Development Report 2011 here.

"We need massive public funding for sanitation," he said adding there has been marked progress in providing education, and some improvement in making health care and drinking water available in the country.

Making a comparison, Ramesh said while expenditure on water supply was Rs.20,000 crore annually, it was just Rs.2,000 crore on sanitation.

Success in providing education came because of the centre, which bears around 60 percent of the total spending on the sector today, he said.

"Out of 6 lakh villages in the country, only 25,000 are free from the practice of open defecation," the minister said, adding "People do not use toilets due to cultural reasons in many parts of the country."


http://zeenews.india.com/news/health/health-news/sanitation-disastrous-in-india-jairam-ramesh_14412.html

Anonymous said...

At least India does not stand with bowl in hand before America.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "At least India does not stand with bowl in hand before America."

Oh really? Did you read the post and digest the table from WaterAid report?

In 2009, India was the biggest recipient with $747 million aid to help build toilets. And it has been among the top recipients of aid since 2001 while Pakistan is not even in the top 10.

India was the fourth largest recipient of aid (ODA) between 1995 to 2008 (US$26.1 billion), according to Global Humanitarian Assistance website.

And foreign aid continues to pour in India as we speak.

Irfan said...

Due to conflict the nation will be hard pressed to achieve MDG unless you're a Zardari chela. Dawn.com recently published this article.


ISLAMABAD, Nov 18: As many as 97, 900 people died annually due to poor water and sanitation in Pakistan, said a report released here on Friday by an international charity.

The report by WaterAid titled: “Off-track, off-target: Why investment in water, sanitation and hygiene is not reaching those who need it most”, was released by the WaterAid`s Country Representative in Pakistan Siddiq Khan on World Toilet Day being observed on November 19 globally.

It said that 48 million Pakistanis defecated in the open and basic toilet was a distant dream for them.

Pakistan had committed under Millennium Development Goal to supply safe water to 93 per cent and adequate sanitation facilities to 64 per cent of the population by year 2015.

Yet, according to the report, only 45 per cent people used improved sanitation facilities in Pakistan. At current rates of progress the water target would be missed by 7 years (2022) and the sanitation target by 13 years (2028).

Rahul said...

Riaz, here you again spinnig the the numbers.

"India was the fourth largest recipient of aid (ODA) between 1995 to 2008 (US$26.1 billion), according to Global Humanitarian Assistance website."

True, but India is considerably larger than Pakistan. The same website has these figures PER CITIZEN:

Humanitarian aid and Total aid
---------------------------------------
Pakistan. $3.1 & $15.8
India. $0.01 & $1.0
2009 figures

By the way, Pakistan has received $21.4 billion in ODA assistance compared to India's $26.1 billion since 1995 and INDIA HAS SIX TIMES THE POPULATION!


Pakistan

Anonymous said...

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-witnesses-56-drop-in-new-HIV-cases-UNAIDS/articleshow/10819526.cms

some good news...

Anonymous said...

Really.... India is a recipient of aid? Let me see...so far this year, India has GIVEN

1. $2 billion aid to IMF.
2. $500 million credit line to Myanmar
3. $250 million credit line to Nepal


I would like to see how much aid Pakistan has given to other countries.

India is not standing with begging bowl. You are.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Let me see...so far this year, India has GIVEN"

While over 800 million Indians live in abject poverty (World Bank) defecate in the open (UNICEF).

Anon: "India is not standing with begging bowl. You are."

Not true. India stands in line with a much bigger bowl and collects a lot more foreign aid than Pakistan.

As Sashi Tharoor puts it: India is superpoor, not superpower.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian rupee hit record low amidst high inflation and high twin deficits, according to Wall Street Journal:

The Indian rupee fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar Tuesday as high inflation and a gaping current-account deficit weighed on demand for the local unit, before a recovery in global risk appetite helped trim the greenback's gains.

The dollar was at INR52.30 late Tuesday, up from INR52.16 late Monday, after rising to as much as INR52.725 during the session, its highest ever. The dollar's previous high was INR52.1950 on March 3, 2009.

The pace of the rupee's fall caught most market watchers off guard, forcing firms with unhedged overseas debt to rush for cover, accelerating the fall.

Adding to this, exporters have been wary of locking into a dollar rate for their future revenue, when the dollar's rally may well have more steam.

"The rupee is being swept by a self-fulfilling squeeze--capital is being pulled from hot money markets in Asia, and the rupee is just far more vulnerable than other Asians with its trade deficit," said Sean Callow, a Sydney-based currency strategist at Westpac Bank.

But some argue that the rupee's slide could be on its last legs. UBS, for example, argues that the rupee's fall has less to do with local factors such as inflation and slowing economic growth in India, and more to do with re-rating the rupee to a basket of currencies that's more sensitive to the global economy. The Swiss house advises buying the rupee at this point, as a bet on a global cyclical rebound.

Rupee bulls got a boost when a federal government official told Dow Jones Newswires that the central bank was planning to offer a dollar liquidity window to oil importers. Under the planned window, oil importers would be able to pay for their greenback purchases by selling the central bank the so-called oil bonds, which are issued to them by the government in exchange for selling fuel products at below-market prices.

If this window comes into effect, it would take a key source of greenback demand out of the currency market, helping to ease the rush for the dollar, said the treasury head of a foreign bank.

In the sovereign debt market, Indian government bonds were under pressure on the growing view that the federal government would struggle to stick to its fiscal deficit target.

The benchmark 8.79% 2021 bond ended at INR99.64, from Monday's INR99.76.

Royal Bank of Scotland reckons India's fiscal deficit will overshoot its target of 4.6% of gross domestic product by at least one percentage point because of rising subsidies on food and fuel and dwindling tax revenue.

Traders say an overshoot of the fiscal deficit of that magnitude could push the benchmark bond yield beyond 9%.


http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20111122-706954.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an FT report on India's widening trade deficit:

India’s trade deficit widened to a 17 year high of $19.6bn in October, according to Rahul Khullar, the country’s commerce secretary.

The record number highlights the underlying problems in India’s economy and represents a dilemma for the Indian central bank, already struggling with inflation, that might force it into another rate hike in the future.

According to Khullar, and reported by Bloomberg, India’s deficit was caused by slowing export growth, driven to a two-year low by shrivelling demand in Europe and the impact of higher oil prices on the cost of imports.

The balance of trade for the first seven months of the year that started April 1 was $93.7bn and “that is clearly something to be worried about, because at this rate you’re clearly going to breach the $150 billion mark for the fiscal year”, said Khullar.

Khullar told reporters in Delhi that although merchandise exports rose 10.8 per cent to $19.9bn in October, compared to a year earlier, imports gained 21.7 per cent to $39.5bn, leaving a gap of $19.6 billion, the highest recorded since at least 1994.

But as Andrew Kenningham of Capital Economics told beyondbrics: “India’s trade numbers are not usually a source of real interest as they are normally quite good. The current account deficit was only 2.5 per cent a year ago but the number for October is quite nasty and reverses the previous positive trend. However, it isn’t a complete picture of the current account as it does not include services figures or remittances – the current account deficit is always lower than the trade deficit.”

And Kenningham thinks October’s import figures may be a one-off anyway. India’s trade deficit is particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in world oil prices as it imports almost three-quarters of its oil requirements and Kenningham argues that “it is probable that this month’s import figure will be an outlier – the oil price has not moved dramatically and slowing internal demand should push down overall imports.”

Kenningham sees these figures as more of a problem for the Indian central bank “which considers a 3 per cent current account deficit to be the maximum sustainable level. A weaker rupee will but further upward pressure on inflation. Investors may have been expecting a downward rate move next rate year but this raises a few question marks over that.”

And the rupee has continued to weaken as the eurozone crisis drives demand away from EM currencies and weakens demand for India’s exports.

India’s currency has now depreciated more than 11 per cent against the dollar this year but Kenningham told beyondbrics India’s exports shouldn’t count on any major boost from the weakening rupee: “The rupee is only about 10 per cent below its average level for the last five years so I wouldn’t think India’s exports would get too much of a boost from there.”

Thus, although Kenningham is not particularly concerned about India’s balance of payments as “it has $310bn of foreign reserves, low external debt and low levels of portfolio investment in the fixed income market,” he does see it as “a sign of stress in the economy and a further complication for the central bank.”


http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/11/08/indias-widening-trade-deficit/#axzz1eSmmeDzP

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Sashi Tharoor in Tehelka.com on failure of parliamentary democracy in India:

THE RECENT political shenanigans in New Delhi, notably the repeated paralysis of Parliament by slogan-shouting members violating (with impunity) every canon of legislative propriety, have confirmed once again what some of us have been arguing for years: that the parliamentary system we borrowed from the British has, in Indian conditions, outlived its utility. Has the time not come to raise anew the case — long consigned to the back burner — for a presidential system in India?

The basic outlines of the argument have been clear for some time: our parliamentary system has created a unique breed of legislator, largely unqualified to legislate, who has sought election only in order to wield (or influence) executive power. It has produced governments obliged to focus more on politics than on policy or performance. It has distorted the voting preferences of an electorate that knows which individuals it wants but not necessarily which policies. It has spawned parties that are shifting alliances of individual interests rather than vehicles of coherent sets of ideas. It has forced governments to concentrate less on governing than on staying in office, and obliged them to cater to the lowest common denominator of their coalitions. It is time for a change.
-------------
The parliamentary system devised in Britain — a small island nation with electorates initially of a few thousand voters per MP, and even today less than a lakh per constituency — assumes a number of conditions that simply do not exist in India. It requires the existence of clearly- defined political parties, each with a coherent set of policies and preferences that distinguish it from the next, whereas in India, a party is all too often a label of convenience a politician adopts and discards as frequently as a film star changes costumes. The principal parties, whether “national” or otherwise, are fuzzily vague about their beliefs: every party’s “ideology” is one variant or another of centrist populism, derived to a greater or lesser degree from the Nehruvian socialism of the Congress. We have 44 registered political parties recognised by the Election Commission, and a staggering 903 registered but unrecognised, from the Adarsh Lok Dal to the Womanist Party of India. But with the sole exceptions of the BJP and the communists, the existence of the serious political parties, as entities separate from the “big tent” of the Congress, is a result of electoral arithmetic or regional identities, not political conviction. (And even there, what on earth is the continuing case, after the demise of the Soviet Union and the reinvention of China, for two separate recognised communist parties and a dozen unrecognised ones?)


http://www.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ne171211Coverstory.asp

Riaz Haq said...

The World Bank on Thursday said it would provide Pakistan with $5.5 billion in development aid over the next two years, according to AFP:

“The Bank has responded flexibly in the face of the tremendous challenges Pakistan has gone through over the past year or so,” said its Pakistan country director Rachid Benmessaoud.

“We will continue our strong support to Pakistan, while keeping a keen eye on implementation to ensure that these efforts translate into real results on the ground,” he said.

The bank’s progress report on its Pakistan program said its efforts had been disrupted over the past two years by the devastating floods of 2010-2011, ongoing security problems as well as “slow economic reform”.

“Shifting the focus and resources in response to the floods led to a delay in infrastructure investments,” it said.

It said Pakistan’s economic recovery from the floods and other problems remains slow, with growth of 3.9 percent expected next year.

“A range of governance, corruption and business environment indicators suggest that these areas remain a challenge,” it added.

The funds include $4 billion in development assistance and $1.5 billion from the bank’s International Finance Corporation, which helps private sector firms.

“We are committed to helping Pakistan realize its potential especially in key sectors such as infrastructure, renewable energy and agribusiness,” said IFC Middle East director Mouayed Mahlouf

http://tribune.com.pk/story/310881/world-bank-sets-5-5-billion-in-aid-for-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post blog on India's claim of poverty reduction:

India’s Planning Commission says the number of poor people has dropped by 51 million — more than the entire population of Spain or Argentina — in the past five years. This, officials say, is the sharpest drop in poverty rate in India — from 406 million to 356 million, out of 1.2 billion Indians — since the country introduced an ambitious economic reforms program in 1991 that brought unprecedented economic growth and wealth. Poverty in rural India declined at an even faster pace, the report said.

But many Indians are not ready to believe this rare good news. Some accuse the government of statistical jugglery — first, lowering the definition of the poverty line, so as to include fewer people, and then claiming that the number of Indians living in poverty has declined.

According to the commission, Indians are defined as poor if they spend the equivalent of 56 cents or less daily in urban areas and 44 cents or less in villages. This is lower than the earlier level of 65 to 75 cents a day or less in cities, and 50 to 55 cents daily or less in villages, which was set by the commission.

“Is this the poverty line or the starvation line?” S. S. Ahluwalia, a lawmaker with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, asked in parliament on Tuesday, accusing the government of playing with lives of the poor.

“India’s poverty line is the most austerely defined line in the whole world,” said M. S. Swaminathan, an agricultural economist. “It is lower than other emerging economies.”

The government’s data triggered fear among many activists that fewer people will benefit from the government’s proposed free food program for the poor.

But Planning Commission chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, an ardent advocate of free market policies, dismissed such fears on Tuesday.

“The focus of this exercise is to determine whether inclusive growth is working,”said Ahluwalia. “It is not to determine who will get food entitlements.”

One official at the commission said welfare programs like the rural public works guarantee scheme launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has reduced destitute poverty in the past five years,

But in India’s poorer, populous northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the poverty decline has only been marginal, and the absolute number of poor has risen.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/is-india-misrepresenting-its-poverty-numbers/2012/03/20/gIQA1dtXPS_blog.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on power cut and sanitation problems at the Indian parliament:

A foul smell emanating from sewage in a toilet in India's upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha, forced it to adjourn twice on Thursday.

Congress party lawmaker Rama Chandra Khuntia first complained of the smell when a minister was replying to a question in the House.

The first adjournment lasted for 15 minutes. But the continuing stink forced lawmakers to exit again.

Mr Khuntia told the BBC the smell was due to "poor maintenance".

"Everyone in the Rajya Sabha, panicked. Initially, we thought it was a gas leak. But then we realised the stench emanated from the toilet."

"We were told the smell from a toilet adjacent to a canteen found its way inside the House through air-conditioning ducts," Mr Khuntia said.

The incident comes three days after brief power cuts interrupted parliament proceedings.

Television news channel NDTV quoted the main opposition party BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad as saying: "We talk of nuclear safety, we should at least ensure safety of smell in the House."


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-18024831

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story in The Hindu on shining new Chennai airport's stinking toilets:

A constant complaint at the Chennai airport, is the state of its toilets — those in the old domestic terminal as well as the ones in the international terminal. Every day, passengers fork out thousands of rupees for their fares, part of which goes towards the maintenance of the airport. The airport’s toilets though, are constantly in an abysmal state.

The stench emanating from them has compelled several frequent flyers to do without using them.

“Toilets at the airport here are some of the worst, compared to those in other cities. When Mumbai and New Delhi can maintain their airports so well, why is there a problem here?” asked Ananya Rajan, a frequent flyer from Chennai to Delhi.

Tissues are strewn all over inside the toilets, and dustbins overflow as there is no proper disposal of waste. Often, the soap dispensers don’t work, say several passengers.

“It always smells bad. The authorities could at least spray air-fresheners inside from time to time. I’m forced to do away with using the toilet many times because of the odour,” said a passenger who did not wish to be named. She added that the toilet closets were stained and the seats unclean.

“All of us know about the condition of the toilets here, but we are not able to do anything about it. In fact, even we hesitate to use them,” an airport official said.

Airport director H.S. Suresh said, “While some toilets have already been renovated, some are being done at present. We will see to that the issue is resolved very soon.”


http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/article3859678.ece

bidet spray said...

Sanitation should always be on top of priority when it comes to toilet and bathroom concerns. People should start taking care of their health and focusing on hygiene and health. In every bathroom, they should always use and pay attention to their own health.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' blog post on lack of hygiene in India:

My Indian friends and I joke around a lot about me as the typical white American guy visiting India. Cows! Con men! Colors! Most people I’ve met in India have restricted their reactions to my westerner-in-the-east experiences to gentle teasing. When I stuck a picture of a man urinating in public on my Facebook page, calling it one more picture of what you see everywhere you go in India, people weren’t as patient. What was I doing? Insulting the nation? Focusing on the ugly because it’s what all the westerners do when they visit India? Why does India provoke such visceral reactions in visitors?

Public urination, public defecation, dirt, garbage, filth, the poor living on the street — talking about these things, even acknowledging that they’re in front of your face, risks making your hosts unhappy, and possibly angry. It’s the third rail of India, and the voltage can be lethal. That’s why I was surprised when B.S. Raghavan decided to touch it with all 10 fingers.

Raghavan’s column in The Hindu Business Line newspaper begins with this headline: Are Indians by nature unhygienic?

Consider these excerpts:

From time to time, in their unguarded moments, highly placed persons in advanced industrial countries have burst out against Indians for being filthy and dirty in their ways of life. A majority of visitors to India from those countries complain of “Delhi belly” within a few hours of arrival, and some fall seriously ill.

There is no point in getting infuriated or defensive about this. The general lack of cleanliness and hygiene hits the eye wherever one goes in India — hotels, hospitals, households, work places, railway trains, airplanes and, yes, temples. Indians think nothing of spitting whenever they like and wherever they choose, and living in surroundings which they themselves make unliveable by their dirty habits. …

Open defecation has become so rooted in India that even when toilet facilities are provided, the spaces round temple complexes, temple tanks, beaches, parks, pavements, and indeed, any open area are covered with faecal matter. …

Even as Indians, we are forced to recoil with horror at the infinite tolerance of fellow Indians to pile-ups of garbage, overflowing sewage, open drains and generally foul-smelling environs.

There’s plenty more that you can read in that story, but I’ll direct you to the article. I’ll also ask you some questions:

Some people say you shouldn’t point out these problems, and that every country has problems. Do you agree with this statement? Why?
Does anyone disagree with Raghavan’s descriptions of these sights and smells?
Is this even a problem? Or should people get used to it?
Should visitors, especially ones from countries where people are generally wealthier, say nothing, and pretend that they don’t see unpleasant things?
As for me, I can say this: I got used to it, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice it. Indians notice it too. Otherwise, people wouldn’t suggest public shaming campaigns against people urinating in public, they wouldn’t threaten fines for doing it, and they wouldn’t respond with relief to plans to finally make sure that toilets on India’s trains don’t open directly onto the tracks. Of course, these are people in India. It’s a family, taking care of business the family way.

As for me, the message usually seems to be: “If you don’t love it, leave it.” It would be nice if there were some other answer. Acknowledging problems, even ones that are almost impossible to solve, makes them easier to confront.


http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2012/11/17/indians-inherently-unhygienic-indian-writer-touches-third-rail/