There was a catchy news from India about a 104-year-old woman from a village in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari district who sold her goats for constructing toilets at her home. The most amazing thing is that the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi in a function touched her feet as a sign of respect.
It must be an inspiring news for all Indians. Prime Minister Modi went to the extent of telling the media persons to write about her instead of writing about him. Keep away all the politics, this act of Modi is really appreciable. We must learn to keep away politics when dealing with the social issues in our country. I may have different political views that may not match with that of the ruling party. That should not limit me from appreciating good acts of social concerns. The moment I restrict myself from appreciating good things even if it is done by my political rivals, I think that would be the height of intolerance.
Real changes are happening in Indian society. The woman’s initiative to build toilets encouraged other villagers too follow her and they also constructed toilets. The Prime Minister felicitated Kunwar Bai from Kotabharri village of Dhamtari for her efforts to make her village open defecation free.
Open defecation is one of the greatest concerns that modern India faces. With almost 40 percent illiteracy, it is hard to get educate the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. Open defecation is not only limited to the rural areas in India. The busiest financial capital of the country, Mumbai is notorious for people defecating in open air. The issue of open defecation may have a direct relation with education and poverty, but it is not the only reasons at least in India. People having enough money also do not give priority to construct toilet while constructing home when there is an alternative chance for open defecation. Open defecation is a crime against the society rather than an individual’s right to enjoy communicating with the nature openly while attending her call.
There is a biased perception in the Western countries especially about India that Indians eat in private rooms and defecate in public. I have heard many black jokes about open defecation in India. Some years back BBC had reported about combating open defecation in India that dedicated groups working to eradicate this social evil are also loosing their war.
Kerala is one of the highly educated states in India. Still open defecation is an issue of concern in rural areas. I remember participating in a campaign organized by Sastra Sahitya Parishad during school days to bring awareness in people about the importance of making toilet in their home. We marched through villages at night, shouting slogans such as “At least one toilet at every home”. That movement could being awareness to some people.
As Prime Minister told, the media should concentrate on highlighting the importance of the initiative taken by Kunwar Bai. Media can influence the public to a great extent. They just need to focus on development of the country rather than just going behind political rivalries and paid news by business corporates. Media do not need to devote full time for social issues, but should not neglect it fully. We should not loose in the war. Prime Minister’s initiative to make India clean is the best chance to mobilize all forces to drive away this ignorance and win our war.