Moneycontrol
Aug 12, 2017 05:23 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Before you watch Toilet, take a look at the sanitation problem India is facing

Akshay Kumar’s Toilet- Ek Prem Katha hit the theatres on Friday. It is playing at over 3,000 screens in India.

Before you watch Toilet, take a look at the sanitation problem India is facing

Moneycontrol News

Jahan soch wahan shauchalay (toilet),” we have all heard Vidya Balan saying this and even Amitabh Bachchan joined the campaign to make people aware of the health hazards open defecation can lead to. But, it is Akshay Kumar’s Toilet- Ek Prem Katha that is telling the tale by tickling our funny bone.

Kumar is calling this film his contribution towards the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, replied to his tweet by appreciating his effort to further spread the message of cleanliness.

While Toilet received a strong opening at the box office as is playing on 2,900 -3,000 screens in India and 590 screens overseas, the film calls for attention on the issue that many women face on an everyday basis---- no toilets in homes.

Has the scenario changed or do things look the same?

No toilet, no bride

Women have been bargaining for toilets for their marriage. One such case is of Anita Bai Narre who hails from Madhya Pradesh. She earned a monetary reward in 2012 from the then-President of India, Pratibha Patil, after refusing to stay at her marital home due to lack of a toilet. She returned to her husband’s household after he built a toilet.

Narre’s story is of many women in India especially Haryana where sanitation at homes increased by 21 percent specifically among households where men were active in the marriage market, according to a recent research paper titled 'No Toilet No Bride? Intrahousehold Bargaining in Male-Skewed Marriage Markets.’ This was published in the Journal of Developmental Economics.

The no loo, no I do campaign resulted in the building of 1.42 million toilets between 2005 and 2009. Of this 950,000 latrines were built by families above the poverty line and 470,000 by households below the poverty line, according to the data from state officials.

Nature’s call

With the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Government of India aims to eliminate open defecation by 2019. But a survey during May-June 2015 by NSSO, covering 3,788 villages and 2,907 urban blocks, revealed that more than half the people in rural areas still defecate in the open.

What this means is that more efforts have to be directed towards changing people's behaviour, which is one of the objectives of the Mission. What this does not mean is that government’s efforts are going down the drain.

The survey report showed that nearly 96 percent persons in villages and nearly 99 percent in urban areas have access to sanitary toilets.

It also revealed that about 42.5 percent households in rural areas reported to have sanitary toilets, whereas in urban areas, this number is up there at 88.8 percent. The number of people using sanitary toilets came in at around 95.6 percent in rural India and 98.7 percent in urban areas.

The report reflects a gradual shift in people's attitude towards household toilets in rural areas. From 22 percent of rural families having access to toilets in 2001, sustained campaigns pushed the figure up to 32.7 percent in 2011.

Water troubles

The other side of the Swachh Bharat campaign is that even though toilets have been built, the lack of proper water supply have made a lot of them unusable.

While the NSSO report pointed out the increase in the number of loos - going up to 3.5 crore new toilets in 2014, double the 2001 number - 55.4 percent are still opting for open defecation in villages due to the absence of water supply and drainage issues in the toilets. In cities, the number has gone up to 7.5 percent.
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