AN ‘IYER APP’ TO EXORCISE ‘OD’!

A “KRISHNA PRINCIPLE” APP FOR ‘OD’ EXIT!!

Open defecation, more than a source of private joy to many toddler-age boys and girls, is often a lifestyle-limiting factor in many places in North India, mainly in the hinterland India. Once it becomes a habit, it’s a challenge to even State governments to eliminate too, however much they may try to do so through LSGD or local self-government departments. This, in spite of its being a potential dangerous habit in regions near forests, frequented by carnivorous animals like the tiger or leopard.

Even Lord Krishna, famous in Hindu Scripture for his Saama-Daana-Bheda-Danda series of principles for purposes of both global diplomacy and conflict resolution, would find it difficult to bring around a person addicted to relieving himself in the open first thing in the day.

Saama means continued persuasion, Daana means a gift of money to persuade another person to one’s own opinion. Krishna preferred to deal with tricky situations through the Saama route as far as possible. He resorted to Daana in some cases by asking King A to make a gift of, say 1000 heads of cattle, to King B as a means to patch up.

Bheda stands for a mutual difference of opinion over the basic issue and which results in restraint of some kind (like economic or military sanction imposed on terrorist nations).It could be a trigger for further disagreement or fisticuffs but Krishna advised against adopting it first. (E.g. President Bush Jr. could have sent in an investigation team to fist check if Saddam Hussein did have WMD. If so, it might not have ended up in a war!)

Danda (Lit. Beating with a Stick) the last and extreme option means opting for real punishment –like an all-round attack, battle, war or conquest.

In recent years, the Government of India, face to face with low Human Development global indices, has launched a slew of initiatives towards this end to persuade men and women from going outdoors for this “daily business ‘(as one African-origin story has it) but has been meeting a lot of citizen-level resistance, not really of a financial nature of not having not enough money to erect a toilet attached to the house, but of their basic mindset in favor of OD!

Mind you, both Ambedkar and Gandhi had protested the practice of untouchability by encouraging upper castes to deal with their own waste in a sensible manner—say by having a toilet near their homes. That manual scavenging still persists in this country (in total this population segments come to about 3000!) proves that we bloody Indians have coolly ignored their advice to suit our own interests!

Mr. Parameswara Iyer IAS, a Secretary in the Ministry of Drinking Water and sanitation, suggested through a  personal demonstration of pit emptying in Warangal (AP), how periodic pit emptying—the typical house owner dealing with his own family’s waste– must be made central to India’s efforts to eliminate open air defecation!

What he sought to suggest was that one must derive pride from dealing with one’s waste hereafter and that once this is grown into a country wide practice and a social convention, open air defecation tendency is bound to come down and vanish!

If we are evaluate this against the back drop of what Krishna advised, here is the message TO TAKE BACK HOME:

Saama—many advertisements against OD, door to door visits by local panchayat officials, dissemination of notices, , long speeches by politici9qans and social activists at many for a- evidently failed to help the government in initiatives reach fruition. So many millions down the drain!

Daana-gift of money- also was a relative failure too since the money disbursed by the local self-government office invariably got diverted for buying grocery, for payment of school fees or for boozing!

Since India is a democracy, a Danda approach—so dear to all Muslim tyrants like Bashar Al Assad around the Mediterranean Sea– can’t be taken easily for evident reasons.

So only Bheda-the acceptance of the prevalence of a vast difference of thinking and opinion between the government and the citizen over this one issue—is the ONLY option left.

An unenviable Hobbesian Choice of sorts!

It’s now well established that India’s social evil—the Caste Hierarchy- and its scion Untouchability rest as a hidden social justification at the bottom of both manual scavenging practice and the habit of defecating in the open air. The raison d’etre here is simple: untouchable persons alone, generation after generation, must deal with untouchable materials.

Studies have proved that many rural Indians unconsciously associate emptying a latrine by hand with manual scavenging, a menial job or chore that India’s Dalits have been traditionally forced and compelled to perpetuate.

Caste Hindus—like Mr. Iyer, openly refuse to empty latrine pits themselves and hiring someone else to do this dirty smelly job is now become both expensive and complicated. This is in part owing to the fact that Dalits can be exploited to do this job for caste Hindus at cheap rates and also socially excluded for that precise reason!

”Go around the house, you jack-of-all-tasks,  and you will find my son’s sh*t somewhere! Remove it!” was a commonly heard command from many well off homes earlier. ”Come round after you wash your hands and have a cup of coffee!” was added sometime later as a gesture of courtesy but still in acknowledgement of one’s own upper crust social status!!

With more and more Dalits getting well educated, this is become a challenge to caste Hindus today.

Rural India has far more uneducated Dalits than urban India. So open air defecation, along with the practice of local Dalits being asked to manually scavenge the waste away, survives only in Rural India today.

Rural Indians as a result do not want to use the latrines promoted by the government of India because these latrines require periodic emptying of pits, once the pits get filled up .They are afraid of the health issues they will face if they shall have to do this dirty task. Dalit children are not available too.

Latrines with very large pits are one option of course but they are very expensive to make! And which well of man will shell out a large amount for such a simple job and one that can be done in a few minutes outdoors?

Short Cut Option:  Defecating in the Open air or Defecating into the local water body (river or lake).

River Ganges, along with almost all lakes and rivers remain heavily polluted with E.Coli as a result of this practice. The former, interestingly enough,  is dirtied almost exclusively in the Rishikesh-Hardwar region by the “holy” monks and their numerous oddly clad disciples too according to media reports!

Let’s all earnestly hope that Mr. Iyer’s seminal suggestion shall be duly appreciated and well-publicized as it deserves and thus we shall be relieved of this health ruining social evil!

SALUTE TO MR PARAMESWARA IYER, genuine follower of Lord Krishna’s famous advice for adopting steps in a sequential manner!!

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