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Source:AFP Published: 2017/11/19 17:13:39

Sulabh International Museum of Toilets scientist R.C Jha displays a toilet in New Delhi. Photo: AFP

A throne with a built-in commode for a French monarch takes pride of place at a New Delhi museum trying to break taboos surrounding toilets in a country where such convenience remains a sensitive issue.

The replica of the wooden throne used by France’s King Louis XIV is among a treasure trove at the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, tucked away in a bustling suburb of the Indian capital.

“It is quite an unusual museum and I believe it’s the only one of its kind in the world,” Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the museum and the non-profit Sulabh International, told AFP.

“The idea was to start a healthy conversation about sanitation and toilets. We wanted to tell people toilet is not a dirty word,” he said, playing with a small black ball made from dried human waste mixed with glue.

Pathak said the museum has gained traction since being named among the world’s top 10 whacky museums by Time magazine in 2014.

“Hundreds of visitors come now on the weekends,” said the 74-year-old, affectionately known as India’s “Toilet Guru.”

Toilets are a touchy issue in India where about 600 million people – nearly half of the population – defecate in the open, according to UNICEF.

Some 70 percent of Indian households do not have a toilet – while 90 percent have access to mobile phones. More than half the world population does not have a home toilet.

Experts say open defecation in India stems from poverty and a belief that toilets inside the home are unclean. So people prefer to squat in the open.

Three years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a massive cleanliness drive, pledging to build toilets for all by 2019.

So far the government has helped install more than 50 million toilets across the country of 1.3 billion people.

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