Thursday, January 21, 2010

26. Making sense of shame

Unlike many of you, I'm getting convinced that we have run out of ideas to get everyone to shit inside a toilet. The sheer number of toilets required for the country to attain some level of decency would be close to 300 million, assuming that a family of five takes turn to use the same loo. The number will continue to grow rather endlessly - as population grows exponentially, as families break into smaller units and as households migrate in search of new opportunities. I suspect if a Toilet Ministry, working 24x7, can achieve such rolling targets!

But why are we stuck to toilet as the only option, the absence of which favours the foreign tourists with some stinking photo opportunity? Unlike the west, toilets for a vast majority that survives on less than $2 a day may not be a good idea. For them, easing in public seems a democratic decree. It has worked thus far and mark my words, it will sustain during our lifetime for sure. Because public empathy towards squatting has remained secular, never did it trigger any class or caste strife in matter of appropriating public space for conducting private action.

Shit in itself may not be a problem. Left on its own, it engages millions of microbes in enriching the soil with organic carbon. The moment it comes in contact with water, something that a toilet facilitates, the trouble starts. Each water body, be it a pond or a river, gets an undesired share of floating excreta at various stages of decomposition which proves fatal to some half a million children below the age of five on account of water-borne diseases. And nowhere does this piece of statistics suggest that all these deaths are caused due to the scourage of open defecation!

With its extensive paraphernalia the toilet makes unreasonable demand on increasingly scarce public resource - water, which not only limits its spread but amplifies the sanitation crises too. The solution to India's sanitation enigma rests in recognising 'informal squatter islands' as permanent municipal spaces where individual waste will get managed in a way that produces subjectivity than shame. The state's role will then be limited to aesthetically managing such islands, upturning the soil periodically and getting it ready for next volume of bowel discharge before it is sold at a premium to the real estate builders.

Like `nude beaches' elsewhere in the west, we can call such islands `butt parks'


Kuldeep said...

Good idea!! Butt parks can be effectively used for public awareness campaigns for sexual health, family planning, marital counselling and political discourses. A large screen can be installed for entertaining the regular 'patrons' through TV and film shows. Advertisers would grab the opportunity to acquire space on the 'side screens' separating butts. Every 5 minutes of visit to the park can be sponsored by creative advertisers with cheerleaders to encourage the participants.

Vinay said...

I have only some thing to add to the shit you have created so assiduously.When you write that 'Shit by it self is not a problem' please add 'because it is the rosogolla that you ate yesterday.'Otherwise it is not clear why you should have no problem with it.

Vinay said...

Every user of the butt park should be felicitated because he is depositing it where it should eventually be. No carbon foot print as no one goes to the butt park on his/her Mercedes.He should be accorded carbon credits because he is increasing the green quotient of the earth. Reducing the burden on the public health system by the associated morning walk should be another reason for his felicitation.

Vijay Rai said...

Dear Sudhirendra,

I have never seen any one touch this important subject with such style and such sense of humor and without loosing sight of its public health importance.

Keep it up

Vijay Rai