Open Defecation

  • NSS 72nd survey: 52.1% of people in rural India choose open defecation compared to 7.5% in urban India.
  • India has far higher levels of open defecation than other countries of the same GDP (gross domestic product) per capita.
  • For example, India has a higher GDP per capita than Bangladesh, but in Bangladesh only 8.4% households defecate in the open, compared to 55% in India.
  • As nations get wealthier, open defecation decreases. Despite increases in GDP per capita, and increase in latrine availability through the SBA, India has witnessed little decrease in open defecation.
Why do Indians, even with accessible toilets, go in the open?
  • The latrines provided by governments are often used for storage, washing clothes, and as play areas—everything except the intended use.
  • The key reason for this is that basic latrines that need to be emptied out manually or pumped by simple machines are unacceptable to higher caste Hindus.
  • It is considered polluting to the individual and the home, and historically associated with untouchability.
  • Indian policymakers need to rethink the solution to this problem. It is not just a matter of access but a problem of perceptions of pollution, ritual purity, and caste.
  • India needs to change perceptions of ritual purity through education and awareness in rural areas.
  • To change the SBA from a scheme providing free toilets, to one encouraging and enabling local governments to construct sewage systems.
  • So if there is a functional sewage system, it is relatively low cost for households to build a toilet in every home that is connected to the sewage system. 
Why is it difficult to build Sewage System?
  • It takes years to build sewage systems, and local politicians face all the costs upfront, and the benefits are far in the future.
  • Disgruntled citizens and voters complain about the digging of neighbourhoods for years, causing much nuisance to their daily lives
Critically comment why construction of toilets and stopping the practice of open defecation in India is important from sociological viewpoint. (200 Words)
India is regarded as the world’s largest open drain due to the number of people practicing open defecation, in this context there are many sociological reasons for eliminating it.
Women are the most vulnerable social class when it comes to lack of toilet ,incidents of rape especially in rural settings are very frequent ,thus for safety, security and protecting the dignity of women elimination of open defecation (EOOD) is very important.
Manual scavengers are other class who are indirectly paying the price of absence of wet toilets ,which perpetuates the stigma and reinforces their degraded and inhuman condition inn society.
Also it has been observed that most of those having lack of toilets are from vulnerable sections such as SCs, STs and poor which shows a social pattern in lack of access to basic sanitation.
Toilet has positive effects on health. it has direct relation with poverty alleviation. family gets into debt bondage as a result of high health expenditure. the use of toilets will add to the healthy living of the family.
Why are the schemes failing in this area?
  • Focus is only building toilets without any focus on changing mindsets
  • It has been found that people still defecate in open even if toilets are built
  • Funds/ subsidies are provided only for building and not for management and cleanliness without which people stop using them after some time
  • Lack of planning for water while building toilets
Steps taken:
  • Swacch Bharat Mission has special focus on Open Defecation
  • “Darwaja Band Campaign” started : Stands for shutting the door on open defecation
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