Guest Post by APURV MISHRA
“Sanitation is more important than independence”, said Gandhi, the godfather of our freedom fighters, in 1925. Unlike Nehru, who believed that sovereignty and self-rule were a prerequisite for social change, Gandhi insisted that true Swaraj could only be achieved when political independence was accompanied by a parallel program of social reform. As we go through the perfunctory national routine of remembering Gandhi on his death anniversary every year, it is a good time to take stock and reflect on the irreconcilable gap between Gandhian values and our societal priorities. I am not talking about the ambitious Gandhian ideas of village republics, Nai Talim, strict vegetarianism, zealous celibacy or his suggestion of disbanding the Congress, but simple principles like cleanliness and sanitation.
Out of the 1.1 billion people around the world who openly defecate everyday, 626 million belong to India. Indonesia is second with 63 million. Our step-sibling China has just 14 million who defecate in the open, despite having a larger population. In fact, India has more than twice the number of the next 18 countries combined. Just think over these numbers for a minute.
This is not just a hygiene issue; open defecation is the single largest threat to the long term well-being of our country. Continue reading Gandhi’s Dystopia – More Mobile Phones Than Toilets: Apurv Mishra