India, where 70% of the population lives in rural areas faces a potent threat of sanity and hygiene. But is it just confined to rural sectors? No, not at all! With urbanization at its boom, more and more rural dwellers are moving to cities in search of their livelihood and the conditions are becoming more messy. Devoid of attacking a particular section of society being responsible for the situation, or the government being unable to handle the situation, this problem of sanity and unhealthy hygiene is because of irresponsible behaviour of each Indian as a citizen. We don’t forget to wash ourselves daily, get our conveyances done, if in villages, we seldom forget to maintain the tractors and the animals. But when it comes to society there is one question screaming in the air “Yeh sirf humara thodi na hai” ( This don’t does not just belongs to me). I pity this India! Dreaming of becoming a world superpower, and yet fighting the issues of civic sense.
If we go by the facts and figures, it would be shocking to realize that Polio which is virtually eradicated from the West, has 50% of the world’s cases reported by India. 500,000 children die every year in India because of Diarrhoea. A jaundice epidemic strikes a village of Rajasthan every year as annual monsoon. Only 10% of the households in rural India have proper toiletry systems. In urban cities, nearly 60% of the slum dwellings have been marked as permanent. It would be very interesting to know that two-third of the urban dwellings have bathrooms according to 1991 census and still public health risks are greater in cities than in villages. What are the causes of such problems? And what are the factors that stop us from taking steps?
The major reason accounted for all these health problems is contaminated water affected by human waste either natural functions, industrial waste, sewage or garbage thrown untreated into the rivers and seas. The prime reason for all these problems is the lack of responsibility towards the community. There is no collective thought and sense of belonging. Secondly, there is very less awareness among the people about the hazards that unhealthy living conditions bring to the society and our lives. Our casual approach and dependency on authorities for all such community tasks is the biggest problem. We forget that Community health and well being depends not only on the medical fraternity and government but on each individual.
First of all it is very important that we understand the meaning of sanitation and hygiene. I have seen people having well furnished houses, clean verandhas (corridors/galleries) but as you step out of their house, you might find a pit constantly being filled by water, a healthy place for breeding mosquitoes, a heap of garbage thrown by so kind neighbors in society that is stinking more day by day but no one is initiating to get rid of these problems. Sanitation is about keeping the surroundings clean, adapting healthy living habits like stop spitting on roads, pissing on the compound walls and throwing household garbage in near by nallas (big drain), use of eco-friendly materials, releasing treated waste into water resources, etc. it is about having greenery along the roads, well maintained sewerage system in societies. Sanitation is about living and letting others live in a healthy atmosphere. For situations like slum dwellers, villages, there is a need of social awareness, and aggressive work towards infrastructure strengthening.
Let more and more people realize the importance of sanitation and hygiene. We can have group discussions, work festivals, a village health committee, NGOs like SangamIndia working for it. As I said before, the problem of sanitation and hygiene is not solely a government’s or an organization’s responsibility to handle but a cumulative effort of each civilian. Until and unless we understand the perils of this problem and sink in the importance of a healthy society, all the efforts are in vain.