India confronts its lack of toilets
Lack of flush toilets in urban slums and rural areas is an embarrassment for India as it morphs into a global economic power. The Economist reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is determined to remedy a situation with implications not just for health but also safety. Women and children face the greatest risk when they venture into dark, desolate places to relieve themselves.
Modi has said that constructing toilets is more urgent than building temples. The Indian government plans to build 5.2 million public toilets by late August. The magazine recommends ad campaigns in schools and the media that tout the importance of hygiene. According to the last national survey of Indian sanitation practices, conducted in 2005, 67 percent of Hindu households in cities and villages use the outdoors as facilities. The figure was 42 percent for Muslim households.
Even in congested urban areas, Indians can be spotted walking amid trash heaps, among other locations, to search for a place to go. Of the billion people worldwide without access to toilets, India accounts for 600 million, the article says. For perspective, that’s nearly twice the U. S. population.