Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dirty Toilets : Bring Systemic Change

IAS officer, Mr. Praveen Kumar, in Faridabad town in Delhi NCR region set an example by cleaning toilet in a school with his own hands. This is an exemplary piece of work by a government administrator, who is leading from the front in cleaning drive. Any amount of praise you heap on Mr. Kumar is not enough in an hierarchical, status conscious, insensitive society of ours. Here toilet cleaning is reserved for the lowest of the low.

In India, public toilets are mostly unusable. These are poorly managed and extremely filthy. Mahatma Gandhi attempted to inculcate practice of toilet cleaning among inmates of his ashrama. He felt this will be the first bondage one has to overcome in their path to salvation. However, rest of the country is where it is. Instead of keeping access to clean toilets in the domain of occassional feat of extraordinary and sensitive administrative officers, we should bring in systemeic change.

We need to make toilet cleaning more attractive. Pay sanitary workers more. Equip them with proper gear like coveralls, gloves etc. Use technology like vaccuum cleaners instead of bare hands. Privatise cleaning business to bring in more accountability. Why not give franchise to Sulav International for managing toilets in schools, more so in girls schools.

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