Make toilets a part of pop culture say Jairam Ramesh, Uma Bharti, Shivraj Singh Chauhan at conclave

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08 March 2014

A public conclave featuring Jack Sim, founder of World Toilet Association, saw union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and BJP firebrand share the dias to call for an India where everyone had access to a covered toilet.

Ramesh kicked the ball rolling saying that sanitation should be as much a national obsession as cricket, politics and Bollywood.

''We may be the most spiritual country in the world but if 60 per cent of the women defecate in the open, then I ask what kind of spirituality this is,'' he said.

He said it was a sad reality that India Railways is the largest open toilet system in the world, and went on to say that in 10 years we should make India an open defecation-free country.

''Under our Nirmal Gram scheme, in two-and-half years, 25 per cent of gram panchayats are now free from open defecation,'' he said, adding that the biggest problem was providing toilet facilities to urban poor.

Shivraj Singh Chauhan joined in, saying sanitation and spirituality go hand in hand and can't be pitted against each other.

He spoke of his government's 'Maryada Abhiyaan' to build toilets in every house of the state. He added,

''The biggest problem is the mindset of the people. They still feel comfortable defecating in the open. We need to change that.''

BJP's Uma Bharti began by thanking Ramesh for his encouragement to her on her Ganga and Himalaya Bachao Abhiyaan.

The sadhvi insisted that a temple could not be compared with a toilet. She said the government should make building toilets in all houses mandatory, that there should be a provision, especially in bigger cities like Delhi and Mumbai, for toilets to be built for women labourers.

She said, ''When rich people get their daughters or sons married they spend thousands of crores on the wedding. They should come forward and build thousand of toilets rather than spending the money on something else.''

The final speaker of the evening Jack Sim, regaled the audience by proposing that religious leaders, public figures and all celebrities should all be encouraged to compete and participate in a national campaign for toilets for everyone.

He said, ''When we are children, we are told not to talk about shit. When we can't talk about it, how then can we improve it?''

He suggested that companies that provide 2 per cent of their profit for CSR should be encouraged to spend the amount on building public toilets.

''We have to create a revolution that makes toilets sexy. To make people ask friends if their houses have a toilet? Ego will ensure that they too desire a swanky toilet of their own, as much as they desire a new cellphone," he quipped.





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