Thursday, April 22, 2010

India - A land of many things, more cell-phones; less toilets

India, the land of Ganges, has the honour of being the land of many things. At different points of time, it was called by different names, some good, some bad and some ugly.

For many India is a Land of Festivals and Fairs. Those who are astonished by the religious plurality of the country called it a Land of Gods and Goddesses, Land of Rishis and Munis, Land of Religions, Land of Sufis and Saints, Land of Buddha, Land of Temples and so on.

Moved by the cultural diversity, natural bounty and the flora and fauna, many called it as the Land of Monsoon, Land of Diversity, Land of Elephants, Land of Snake Charmers, Land of Spices, Land of Flowers, Land of Ayurveda, Land of Rajas and Maharajas, Land of Contrasts, etc.

For business minded, India is a Land of Billion Opportunities. The proponents of peace would prefer to call it the Land of Ahimsa and Nonviolence. For the National Geographic Channel the country is a Land of Tigers.

For many, the ancient India was a Land of Mystery. To some it’s a Land of Wonders and Enigma and tourists call it a Land of Infinite Variety or a Land of Timeless Beauty.

For American documentary director Chip Duncan, India is the Land of Spirit and Mystique and writer Sanjeeb Baruah feels India as a Land of Thousand Contrasts.

Forget about those old and clichéd names. New names and positions are being bestowed on our mother India. Now the country has become a Land of Cellphones, to be precise, a land of more cell-phones and less toilets.

According to a new study released by the United Nations University, People in India have more access to a mobile telephone than to a toilet. In 2008, just 366 million of India's 1.2 billion people had access to a toilet, the report said, while 563.73 million were subscribers to a cell phone plan.

Wouldn't it be a tragic irony, as noted by the director of United Nations University, Zafar Adeel, ‘to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet?’

The study found that from 2000 to 2001, the number of people with cell phone plans in India was just 0.35 per 100 residents. Today, 45 out of 100 Indians now subscribe to plans.

At a meeting at the U.N. in 2000, global leaders pledged to improve access to sanitation around the world by 50 percent by the year 2015. While the U.N. report put an estimated cost of building a toilet at $300, including labor, it said that $358 billion would be needed to meet the global goals set forth in 2000.

Access to proper sanitation is a key component to public health because a lack of toilets results in the pollution of freshwater sources, the study noted. According to a 2008 report from the World Health Organization, 10 percent of all world illnesses is attributable to problems related to finding clean water. 

photo courtesy: google  


  1. naatukaar jeevikkettedo, ningal apthrakkaar onnnu mindathirikkumo

  2. Cost and access to water supply are the reason why people do not have toilets in rural areas. Spread of mobile phones and toilets cannot be compared at all. If at all its been compared, its been done for its sheer contrast value which makes reports an interesting to read. There is no value beyond that for that comparison. But, no effort is made by these organisations or the government here to reduce the cost of building a toilet. Mobiles can be had for even Rs 500. But, toilets ? Rs 13,000 (300 dollars) to Rs 50,000. And where is water to use in that. Access to water supply and cost, these crucial elements that need to be addressed.



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