Thursday, 13 December 2012

India - what a shituation!

Just returned from a three -week visit. The main purpose was to watch the test matches in Mumbai and Kolkata. They were an experience of such wonder and intensity that they will live with me while I remain sentient. 
Alongside the truly incredible and the wonderful in India there runs a parallel world which is squalid and filthy. Unfortunately there are times when the degradation and squalor are brutally close. 
Here is one email sent to the Times of India - a quality newspaper costing the princely sum of about 6p. 

It is with amazement and dismay that I write. A country with Space Age aspirations has an Achilles heel. The statistic that the slum-dwellers of Mumbai - home to one of the biggest slums in the world - have to share one toilet between 25,000 inhabitants left me shocked and appalled. To see men (in particular) squatting by the roadside or train track to complete a bowel movement in both urban and semi-rural districts was further evidence of there being something rotten in the heart of India. 

Not just rotten but deeply stupid too. Flies do not discriminate between excrement and food. Nor do they discriminate between rich and poor, educated and ignorant. Flies spread disease. This is not news.

It beggars belief that a country with its eyes on space has done so little for great swathes of its population on the ground. Universal sanitation is a clear example of a common good. It is shaming to report that those with the wherewithal seem so dilatory in providing it. Will it take a mass epidemic affecting rich and poor for reason to prevail?

Bio-toilets are not only relatively cheap and hygienic, they do not need expensive treatment plants and pipelines. They also produce power for cooking and lighting. 

Is it asking too much to ensure that sanitation is available to all in India in the 21st Century?

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