Earlier in 2010, a UN study found far more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet. Now, with the government all set to have broadband access to all village Panchayats by the next year, I guess we'll have more people with access to the internet than toilets....
On the other hand another study shows that lack of toilets costs India 54 billion dollars every year largely through health related reasons.
While my mountaineering past has enlightened me to the joy of taking a dump under the sky, I don't imagine its as much fun doing it in the middle of civilization.
We have unemployment, we have need for toilets, how much funds will it take to set up public toilets that the communities can contribute small amounts of money to maintain?
Even if we employ say 1 toilet building team per state, whose only job is to go around building toilets and train people to maintain them, this problem should be fixed. It shouldn't be all that complicated, right? We are planning to launch 30 satellites in the next decade. That's a satellite every four months. Building toilets is likely easier than rocket science, no?
Seriously, if anyone from the government is listening, here is the plan. Copy paste, put forward for approval:
Among the unemployed people in each state, form toilet building teams consisting of masons and other labourers. Create a materials allowance per toilet block. Put one people in charge of coordinating this circus - materials arriving, people coming on time, etc - thekedar, you know. Put another in charge of PR and HR - telling people about what is being done, sending reports, attending to any requests for inspection/curiosity, training local people to operate the toilets, getting clearance for ready toilets and taking on the next assignment.
Believe me, this team will discover rich and rewarding careers, and local people will get employed in their maintenance.
Everyone will vote for you for this bright idea and bringing India out of the dog house on this issue at least.
When I brought this up on Facebook, a friend Shilpa mentioned:
In Germany , many public toilets and their maintainence is funded by large corporations . They improve their PR with the public toilet carrying their name 'Constructed and maintained by ...."
Its a great idea.
Actually, why can't building toilets be the sentence given to all these builders prone to scams? Seeing the number of scams floating around, soon, every Indian would have two toilets - one to use and one back up 😀
Jokes apart, why not ask builders being prosecuted to build toilets as a part of their sentence? Surely, community service builds character and all that? Why not give back to the people they shortchanged?