India was the first country in the world to practice public hygiene and sanitation. Our ancestors from the Indus Valley Civilization built efficient drains and bathrooms-something which was unheard of during that time. The Harappans made the world’s first flush toilets. Cut to the present, there are mounds of garbage found everywhere, dustbins are overflowing, the public toilets are in a sorry state or there aren’t enough in the first place. We people don’t have the civic sense to keep our surroundings clean and fresh. The public toilets are dirty. The problem is acute in villages where women folk are forced to relieve themselves in the open. They are exposed to the risk of urinary infections and poor health. Often they are sexually assaulted. Lack of private toilets in village schools in one of the major reasons why girls don’t continue with their education once they reach puberty.Children suffer from to diarrhoeal diseases which is one of the major causes of their deaths worldwide.
Littering garbage attracts houseflies which are a known carrier of diseases. The outbreak of many diseases like dengue, chikunguniya etc. occur due to breeding of mosquitoes in unsanitary conditions.Often dirty surroundings pollute drinking water as well which leads to many water-borne diseases. The garbage dumped on our roads paints a negative image of our country to our guests from other nations.
Greater progress on sanitation is essential to fighting poverty, women empowerment and development of our nation.Sincere efforts are needed at national level to make toilets accessible to the poorest of our poor, especially women. People should keep their surroundings clean and lead with an example. Our prime minister Narendra Modi ‘s Swacha Bharat Abhiyan seems to be a positive step in this direction.