Lifestyle & Belief

India: Toilets versus jet fighters. (Jets win)


Neighbours watch as recently-wed Priyanka Bharti, who left her marital home in protest due to the lack of toilets in the household, return to the residence of her in-laws at Vishnupur village in Maharaj Ganj. Three newly-wed brides who left their marital homes because of sanitation concerns were each rewarded with 200,000 rupees (3,500 USD) and the costruction of new toilets in their in-laws residences for taking a stand on sanitation in rural India.



If you're looking for a few new weapons for your next Rock-Paper-Scissors battle, try toilets and jet fighters. How does it work? Toilet drowns paper and rusts scissors, rock clogs toilet, and Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) blasts 'em all to smithereens, says rogue Congress Party politician Jairam Ramesh. 

For the cost of just one of the 126 fighter jets India is slated to buy from the French aircraft maker, Ramesh's rural development ministry could make 1,000 Indian villages "free of open defecation" (assuming the money wasn't squandered on trips to Switzerland and the like), the Times of India quoted Ramesh as saying.

It's not as crazy as you think. For its next trick -- setting up "bio-digestor toilets" in 1,000 villages across the country -- the rural development ministry has teamed up with India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) -- best known for its failure to make much progress in ending India's reliance on imported weapons systems, the newspaper said.

Defence minister A K Antony, triggering guffaws from the audience, retorted that DRDO would certainly provide his ministry with the bio-toilet technology, but it was up to Ramesh to ensure the requisite funding as well as collaboration from state governments, other local bodies and NGOs for installation of the eco-friendly toilets. ``Money provided in the budget for defence is for national security,'' he said.

Ramesh quickly clarified that while it was necessary to spend on the country's defence, he only wanted the myriad technologies developed by DRDO to also benefit the society at large. The aim is to make 1,000 panchayats open-defecation free by installing the bio-toilets, originally developed by DRDO for soldiers deployed in high-altitude areas, over the next few years.  

In other toilet-related news, Ramesh -- who was shunted out of the environment ministry after blocking projects favored for clearance by the government, and can sometimes sound like he's co-opted the opposition -- called the Indian Railways "the world's largest open-air toilet," a reference to the large numbers of people who defecate by the railway tracks because they lack other facilities.

"We are the world's capital for open defacations. 60 per cent of all open defacations in the world are in India. This is a matter of great shame," Ramesh said.

"The second dimension of the sanitation problems in India is the Railway, which is really the largest open toilet in the world. 11 million passengers every day and we all know the state of sanitation in our railway," he added.

Though it won't benefit the ladies squatting by the tracks (who cover their faces with the fall of their saris when a train rolls by), Ramesh said he's also planning "bio-digestor" toilets for India's trains, CNN/IBN quoted the rural development minister as saying.

"...What I have offered to Railway Board Chairman is that we will bear 50 per cent cost of retrofitting each on the 50000 coaches with the DRDO biodigesters in 4 to 5 years time,"