According to a recent report released by WHO and UNICEF, over half of the India’s population defecate in the open. This has serious consequences on the health of the individual and ‘demographic dividend’ and the future growth prospects of India.
Though experts and political leaders have raised this issue and called for “more toilets than temples”, there is not much improvement in this regard.
India to its record has most number of people who defecate in the open and Bihar alone has a higher rate than any other country in the world to continue this practice indicates the seriousness of this issue.
Even neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal have done well in this regard. For instance by reducing open defecation from 32% to 4% during 1990-2011, Bangladesh has fared extremely well. The reduction has been about 50% in the case of Nepal (84 to 43%) and Pakistan (52 to 23%) during the same period( in India, the reduction is from 74% to only about 50% in 2011)
Determined to resolve this issue, the Indian government has come up with its mission to completely eliminate this practice by 2022 and 50% of all gram panchayats by 2017. And had also taken certain measures like increasing the amount to be spent for household toilets in rural areas from Rs.4,600 to Rs.10,000 in 2012.
However, it must be realised here that, financial incentives alone cannot end or drastically reduce the percentage of people continuing with this practice. If other countries have achieved it, there is no reason why India cannot do it.
The need to aggressively address the issue cannot be overemphasised as open defecation affects children, especially those below five, the most. This practice causes diarrhoea, one of the most common communicable diseases in India and a number one killer of young children. Frequent diarrhoeal events result in under-nutrition. This is why nearly 50 % of under-five children in rural areas are stunted, wasted and underweight. Children weakened by this disease are in turn more prone to opportunistic infections such as pneumonia.
A recent report released by the World Bank reveals even more dangerous consequences- it has gone beyond the physical impact of this issue and has found a link between open defecation and reduced cognitive achievements. It’s high time that the government shows more pro-activeness and creates awareness on this issue.
The Union Cabinet has given its nod for conferring constitutional status on the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) for appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary.
The government earlier accepted the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which recommended that the structure and functions of the JAC to replace the present collegium system be governed by a constitutional provision.