Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

 

वृंदावन, कार्यालय संवाददाता : सुलभ इंटरनेशनल ऑफ सोशल आर्गेनाइजेशन प्रमुख बिंदेश्वरी पाठक ने कहा कि संस्था अब वृंदावन के सरकारी आश्रय सदनों में रहने वाली विधवा-वृद्धाओं को सुशिक्षित करेगा। उनके आंख, दांत, कान की तकलीफ दूर करने के लिये ठोस कदम उठाया जायेगा।

श्री पाठक सुलभ टीम के साथ शनिवार को महिला आश्रय सदन रासविहारी कुंज, लीला सदन, चैतन्य विहार के प्रथम एवं द्वितीय चरण संग रामानुजनगर में आये। उन्होंने मांओं से उनकी स्थिति के बारे में जानकारी की और भजन संकीर्तन कर उल्लास बढ़ाया। पाठक ने कहा कि प्रत्येक मां की आंख, कान, दांत की जांच के बाद आवश्यक होने पर उन्हें यंत्र दिये जाएंगे। मांओं को शिक्षित करके उन्हें बेहतर जीवन जीने को प्रेरित किया जाएगा। उनके साथ संस्था की चेयरपरसन सुमन चाहर, मदन झा थे। इस अवसर पर नीतू सिंह, अर्जुन पटेल, अंजू गुप्ता, यशोदा, दीपिका चौधरी, कंचन से पाठक ने सुलभ द्वारा प्रदत्त एंबूलेंस आदि की जानकारी हासिल की।

Source : http://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/mathura-10032061.html

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Rajasthan.

राजस्थान के अलवर में रहने वाली ऊषा चाउमार ने अपने साथ सैकड़ों स्त्रियों को सिर पर मैला ढोने की प्रथा से छुटकारा दिलाया. विकास कुमार की रिपोर्ट.

ऊषा पहले तो बात करने में खुलती ही नहीं. बेहद औपचारिक तरीके से दुआ-सलाम और फिर इधर-उधर की बातें करती हैं. लेकिन बार-बार अपने बारे में बताने का आग्रह करने पर जब वे अनौपचारिक होती हैं तो फिर बोलती ही जाती हैं. ढेरों बातें एक ही सांस में बता देना चाहती हैं. वे बताती हैं, ‘मेरा पूरा नाम ऊषा चाउमार है. राजस्थान में भरतपुर के पास डीह गांव में पैदा हुई. हम सात भाई-बहन हैं. दो भाई और पांच बहनें. मुझे अब भी वो दिन अच्छी तरह से याद है, जब मैं करीब सात साल की थी और मेरी मां ने मुझे भी काम पर ले जाना शुरू कर दिया था. मां अपने एक हाथ में राख से भरी लोहे की परात रखती थी, दूसरे हाथ में झाड़ू. घर से निकलने के पहले चेहरे को पूरी तरह घूंघट से ढक लेती थी. मैं अबोध बच्ची, बहुत कुछ समझ नहीं पाती थी लेकिन उनके साथ हो जाती. बहुत दिनों तक बहुत कुछ समझ ही नहीं सकी और जब तक इस काम को समझ पाती, तब तक मैं खुद ही मां की तरह परात और झाड़ू लेकर काम पर निकलने लगी थी. दस साल की उम्र में मैं भी वही काम करने लगी थी. जान चुकी थी कि मेरी मां गांव के सामंतों का पैखाना-पेशाब और गंदगी साफ करने जाती थी और मैं भी वही कर रही हूं.’ वे आगे कहती हैं, ‘मां के साथ जाते-जाते ही मैं यह भी समझ गई थी कि ठाकुर-ब्राह्मण श्रेष्ठ होते हैं और हम अछूत हैं.’

ऊषा चाउमार यह सब बताते-बताते कई बार भावुक होती हैं, लेकिन रुकती नहीं. अतीत भले ही छूट चुका हो लेकिन उसकी भयावहता अब भी उनके मन में ठहरी हुई है. वे कहती हैं, ‘गर्मी के दिनों में भरी दोपहरी में मैं अपनी बहनों के साथ काम करती थी. प्यास लग जाए तो पानी के लिए किसी के घर के बाहर से ही चिल्लाना पड़ता था. प्यास से तड़पने के बावजूद हम घर के भीतर नहीं जा सकते थे. कोई पानी लेकर निकलता और ऊपर से डालता तो हम चुल्लू में लेकर जानवरों की तरह पीते.’

वे थोड़ा संभल जाएं, इसके लिए हम विषय थोड़ा बदलने की कोशिश करते हैं. लेकिन ऊषा रुकती नहीं. कहती हैं, ‘अब आगे की जिंदगी भी जान ही लीजिए.’ 10 साल की उम्र में ही ऊषा की शादी हो गई. चार साल बाद वे अलवर स्थित अपनी ससुराल आईं. वहां भी वही काम इंतजार कर रहा था. ऊषा बताती हैं, ‘सोचा था कि ससुराल में थोड़े दिन तो राहत मिलेगी लेकिन घर तो बदला, काम नहीं.’

ऊषा और उनके साथ काम करने वाली कई नई बहुरियों को इस पेशे से नफरत थी, लेकिन परिवार चलाने के लिए, दो वक्त की रोटी का इंतजाम करने के लिए कोई और रास्ता भी नहीं था, सो करना पड़ा वह काम. 

तो फिर कैसे बदली जिंदगी, यह पूछने पर ऊषा के चेहरे पर पहली बार खुशी का भाव आता है. वे बताती हैं, ‘हर दिन की तरह काम पर निकली थी. मोहल्ले में एक रोज एक गाड़ी आकर लगी. उस गाड़ी में सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता एवं सुलभ इंटरनेशनल के संस्थापक बिंदेश्वरी पाठक थे. जब पाठक ने ऊषा और उनके साथ काम कर रही महिलाओं को बुलाया तो इन्हें विश्वास ही नहीं हुआ कि गाड़ी में बैठा हुआ कोई आदमी उन्हें बुला सकता है. ऊषा बताती हैं, ‘विश्वास हुआ भी तो हिम्मत ही नहीं हो पाई जाने की. मैं ही किसी तरह हिम्मत कर गई और गाड़ी से कुछ दूर पहले ही घूंघट ताने खड़ी रही. उन्होंने पूछा कि यह काम क्यों करती हो. छोड़ दो, गंदा काम है. मुझे बहुत गुस्सा आया कि यह कार वाला साहब भी मजाक करने आया है. मैंने कहा कि हमारा घर इसी से चलता है तो क्या करूं?’

‘भयंकर गर्मी में प्यास से तड़पने के बावजूद हम किसी के घर के भीतर नहीं जा सकते थे. कोई पानी लेकर निकलता और ऊपर से डालता तो हम चुल्लू में लेकर जानवरों की तरह पीते’

ऊषा आगे बताती हैं, ‘उन्होंने कहा कि आप मुझे अपने घरवालों से मिलवाओ, मैं यह काम भी छुड़वा दूंगा और घर-परिवार चलाने का रास्ता भी बताऊंगा.’ ऊषा ने ऐसा ही किया. बात सुनते ही उनकी सास भड़क गईं.  ऊषा कहती हैं, ‘उन्होंने कहा कि पागल हो गई हो जो किसी के कहने पर पुश्तैनी पेशा छोड़ रही हो!’

ऊषा बताती हैं कि उनके मन में भी दुविधा हुई कि क्या होगा, क्या नहीं. लेकिन वे भंगी के पेशे से छुटकारा चाहती थीं इसलिए आखिर में उन्होंने तय किया कि एक बार कोशिश करके देखते हैं. कुछ हुआ तो जिंदगी बदल जाएगी. नहीं तो मैला साफ करने वाला यह काम तो बचपन से आता है, फिर करने लगेंगी. ऊषा ने साहस दिखाया. मन की बात पति को बताई और जब पति तैयार हो गए तो वे दिल्ली आकर सुलभ से जुड़ गईं.  यहीं उन्हें अहसास हुआ कि जीविका चलाने के लिए  जरूरी नहीं कि मैला ढोया जाए. और भी बहुत से काम हैं जिन्हें करके सम्मानित जीवन जीने के साथ-साथ अच्छा पैसा भी कमाया जा सकता है. अपने इस सफर के बारे में ऊषा बताती हैं, ‘मुश्किल था अलवर से दिल्ली पहुंचना. लेकिन मेरे मरद ने हिम्मत दी. और मैं यहां पहुंच गई. यहां आकर मुझे पता चला कि रोजगार के दूसरे बहुत से साधन है जिनमें इज्जत भी है और पैसा भी. जैसे अगरबत्ती बनाना, पापड़ बनाना, सिलाई करना, ब्यूटी पार्लर चलाना. यह सब जानने और सीखने के बाद मैं अलवर लौटना चाहती थी ताकि वहां की दूसरी महिलाओं को भी यह सब बता और समझा सकूं.’

कुछ दिन दिल्ली में गुजारने के बाद उषा फिर से अलवर लौटीं. कुछ नए सपनों और उन सपनों को हकीकत में बदलने के तरीकों के साथ अलवर पहुंचकर ऊषा ने अपने साथ की कुछ महिलाओं से बात की. उन्हें इस बात के लिए तैयार करना शुरू किया कि वे उन पर थोपे गए एक घिनौने पारंपरिक पेशे को छोड़कर एक नई राह चलने की सोचें. ऊषा बताती हैं, ‘कुछेक महिलाओं को छोड़कर किसी ने ज्यादा एतराज नहीं किया.’ जल्द ही उनके साथ दस महिलाएं जुड़ गईं. इसके बाद ऊषा ने अपने इलाके में एक ट्रेनिंग सेंटर खोला.

इस पूरी कवायद के बारे में ऊषा हंसते हुए बताती हैं, ‘हां, कुछ महिलाओं ने मुझे पागल जरूर कहा. कुछ ने कहा कि दिल्ली से आई है तो इतरा रही है. जल्द ही जमीन पर आ जाएगी लेकिन ज्यादातर महिलाओं ने मेरा कहा माना और मेरे साथ जुड़ गईं. इससे मुझे हिम्मत मिली. फिर सुलभ की सहायता से अलवर में ट्रेनिंग सेंटर भी शुरू हो गया.’

इसके बाद तो देखते ही देखते पूरे अलवर के भंगी समाज की महिलाओं ने अपना पुराना पेशा छोड़ दिया और ऊषा की मुहिम के साथ जुड़ती चली गईं. आज नतीजा यह है कि ऊषा 600 से अधिक महिलाओं को इस नारकीय पेशे से निकाल चुकी हैं. वे कहती हैं, ‘उस समय मैं बहुत दुविधा में रहती तो आज यह दिन नहीं देख पाती.’

ऊषा कई बार विदेश हो आई हैं. आज उनके बच्चे बेहतर शिक्षा प्राप्त कर रहे हैं. इलाके में अपनी तरह की महिलाओं की जिंदगी में वे बड़ा बदलाव लेकर आई हैं. उनके द्वारा खुलवाए गए ट्रेनिंग सेंटर में आज महिलाओं को मोमबत्ती, पापड़, अगरबत्ती बनाने से लेकर ब्यूटी पार्लर चलाने तक की ट्रेनिंग दी जा रही है. कभी दूसरों के घर की गंदगी साफ करके उसे सिर पर ढोने वाली महिलाओं के हाथ से बनी मोमबत्तियां आज लोगों की जिंदगी में उजास भर रही हैं. अछूत मानी जाने वाली इन महिलाओं के हाथ से बनी इन अगरबत्तियों भगवान का घर सुगंधित होता है. उनके हाथ से बने पापड़ लोगों के खाने में लज्जत घोलते हैं. अतीत की पीड़ा की जगह अब ऊषा के चेहरे पर अपने वर्तमान का गर्व दिख रहा है.

Source : http://www.tehelkahindi.com/indinoo/national/1570.html

 

Posted by & filed under Articles, Delhi, Sulabh News.

Sulabh International Centre for Action Sociology in close collaboration with Sulabh International Social Service Organisation is holding the National Conference on “SOCIOLOGY OF SANITATION”

ENVIRONMENTAL SANITATION, PUBLIC HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEPRIVIATION

at Mavalankar Hall, Rafi Marg New Delhi, on January 28 & 29, 2013, (Monday & Tuesday). This is a preliminary conference to do brainstorming on the significant issues of sanitation – environmental sanitation, public health and social deprivation as prelude to hold in future an International Seminar in November/December, 2014.

The objective of this National Conference is to hold a comprehensive dialogue with academia, administrators, technocrats and civil society to conceptualize the complex social and environmental issues, and to undertake an incisive perspective on futuristic goals and paradigm. 

This conference and the proposed International Seminar will set up the road map for future strategy, and interventions, as well as to add to the corpus of knowledge and research on “Sociology of Sanitation”.

Director
Sulabh International Centre For Action Sociology
Sulabh Gram, Mahavir Enclave
Palam-Dabri Road,
New Delhi- 110045
Tel No.: 011-25031518, 25031519
Fax No.: 011-25034014, 25055952
Mobile No. : 9810399293, 9911382072
Email: sociologyofsanitation@gmail.com

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Madhya Pradesh.

 

Bhopal Municipal Corporation Mayor Krishna Gaur inaugurated four newly constructed advanced deluxe public utility centres at Indrapuri market, Gandhi market Piplani, Sonagiri square, and Bajranj market in Barkehda Pathani on Thursday.

 The Corporators of the area, BMC officials and senior citizens were present at the occasion.Lauding the facilities available at the utility centers, the Mayor said that the public utilities have increased in number with respect to other cities in the past few years. The BMC has developed around 100 public utility centres in the city and 10 more are nearing completion.

 These public utility centres are constructed in the busy market places to cater the need of local traders and citizens visiting these areas. This would also help in keeping these areas clean and tidy.

Bhopal Municipal Corporation along with Sulabh International Social Service Organisation developed 16 seater four public utilities equipped with advance and modern facilities were also developed at B-Sector Piplani, Sonagiri square, Gandhi market and Bajrang market Barkheda Pathani which cost around Rs 20 each.The locals and traders praised the developed work by the BMC Mayor Krishna Gaur on the occasion.

Additional Commissioner Pramod Shukla, Members of Mayor in Council Narayan Singh Pal and Chandramukhi Yadav, Corporator and Zonal Head Niramla More, Corporator Girish Sharma, TR Mishra, Alderman Sanjay Kunwar, Controller of Sulabh International MP Anil Kumar Jha, Deputy Controller Sulabh International MP Sunil Kumar Singh, former corporator Barelal Ahirwar, Gautam More, Rakesh Bhadouria, Ganesh Ram Naagar and Harishankar Mishra were present at the occasion.

Source : http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/bhopal/121516-bmc-mayor-inaugurates-four-new-deluxe-pucs.html

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, International.

 

The Indian Supreme Court expressed concern at the delay in passing a bill to ban manual scavenging.

The Indian Supreme Court expressed concern on Tuesday at the delay in passing a bill that would ban manual scavenging.

The bench told Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, "They [manual scavengers] are marginalized and Parliament needs to take adequate steps to pass the bill. It had been over a year and half that the Additional Solicitor-General has been promising to do something. We need a proper reply," according to Indian newspaper The Hindu.

"Manual scavenging—or cleaning human waste from toilets—is only the most demeaning of the jobs that India's erstwhile untouchables, or Dalits, are forced to perform to earn a living," GlobalPost senior correspondent Jason Overdorf said, from New Delhi.

"Making manual scavenging illegal, and instituting measures to help those trapped in those jobs to find other work, is of course a necessary and much too tardy measure. But there are arguably more important ways in which India is working to help Dalits attain equal status—albeit none of them is working as well as it should."

"Most importantly, a program to reserve about a fifth of the seats in the country's universities and a fifth of government jobs for Dalits has helped many to escape the economic limitations of their caste—even if they still face social restrictions. But the result has been a deadly backlash against the oppressed group in many places, such as rural Haryana, where higher caste farmers resent the Dalits' rise."

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill remained pending through three sessions of parliament, leading to the Supreme Court expressing its serious concern.

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition relating to the deaths of manual scavengers while cleaning manholes and sewer lines on Tuesday, The Times of India reported.

The Hindu reported that nearly 19 manual scavengers died in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu alone.

AG Vahanvati noted it took Indian states 19 years to ratify the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act of 1993, according to The Times of India.

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, International.

 

FOUR essentials —  temples, toilets, tablets (computers)  and tap water — are unrelated. But in India, they are. Their uneven availability affects the human development indicators.

Straight-talking minister Jairam Ramesh has sparked a debate saying there are more temples in India than toilets.

He is right. Facts, established in the United Nation's Human Development Index, among other authoritative indices, substantiate his statement. Temples are needed for spiritual cleansing while toilets are for the physical one.

But why compare the two?, demands the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Not surprising, since a major political plank that brought it to power was a promise of a temple at a disputed site in Ayodhya, believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram.

A temple, basically, is a "house of god", and is not faith-specific. But for Indians, its connotation is Hindu. Other faiths have mosques, churches, viharas for Buddhists, the Sikhs have gurdwaras, the Jains have derasars, the Zoroastrians have agiyaris and the Jews have synagogues.

India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, himself secular, called dams he built on the rivers "temples of modern India". He knew "temple" would jell with his compatriots.

As for toilets, when I wrote here about sanitation in India, I was mildly berated for foisting a yucky issue on Malaysian readers. But I cannot ignore it. Now, Ramesh is pointing to the embarrassing fact that millions do not have access to it and relieve themselves in the open.

Men do it — shamelessly or helplessly. But women have privacy problems. A Planning Commission study has concluded that one reason girls drop out of schools was a lack of toilets.

Ramesh's statement is just a nudge to those who spend billions on enriching temples or building new ones, hoping to achieve nirvana. They ought to divert some of their riches for the lowly, worldly, task of building toilets.

The contrast is clear. Faith-based practices separate the ritually pure from the impure, while rational scientific discourse separates the progressive from the backward. The toilets are essential, but the responsibility rests first and foremost on the state.

The best intervention in this field has come neither from the state, nor from the philanthropists, but from Sulabh International, India's largest non-profit body, with a movement in the 1970s to liberate scavengers.

Using low-cost hygienic technology Sulabh has devised 26 toilet designs of varying budgets, with the help of local materials, factoring in existing water scarcity.

It has built toilets in Afghanistan. Its designs have been adapted in many countries.

The temple versus toilet issue needs to be seen in the socio-economic context. The religious, too, have to be clean before entering any shrine. And water, like toilets, is essential.

Water for drinking and washing remains a problem in a country criss-crossed by mighty rivers. A 1960s plan to link them into a "garland" was found to be too expensive.

Today, it would cost several times more.

With water being a state subject, the Federal Government can do little. The Supreme Court's appeal endorsing the garland has gone un-responded by all concerned.

In the last decade, the mobile phone has made communications widespread, easier and cheaper. Critics point to greater access to telephony than toilets.

Like the telephone, the tablet. Although far behind China and the developed world, India is fast moving into cyberspace and getting computerised. Its leadership in Internet-run commerce is both the cause and consequence of this spread.

Most international brands are competing for market space. While the government is not into building toilets and is slow on generating drinking water, it is promoting cheap tablet computers for a vast and hungry market. The newest one is called "Akaash".

The delay in its supply prompted a tiff between federal Human Resource Minister Kapil Sibal, who is promoting it, and Chief Minister Narendra Modi of Gujarat.

The message is: "Don't just make promises, keep them."

Cash doles and food form the backbone of older poverty-alleviation schemes. At the UN, BJP veteran L.K. Advani praised a job guarantee scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, although it was enacted and promoted by a government he opposes.

From cash and food to jobs; and now gadgets that can help generate the first three. This is a logical step forward.

Last year, thousands of landless labourers from underdeveloped Uttar Pradesh did not throng the greener pastures of Punjab for harvesting crops. They stayed home to receive the government-promised tablets. This is an undreamt acquisition for the illiterate poor. The children will hopefully shed their parents' handicaps.

The Indian story is glass half-full, but the level is rising.

mahendraved07@gmail.com

Source : http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/there-s-a-greater-need-for-toilets-than-temples-1.197146#

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, India.

In relation to toilets, there are clearly some attitudinal issues in India. For instance, the bosses don't clean toilets. The heads of household don't clean toilets. And so on. But let me assure you that even the Brahmin (whatever that means) head of household has to clean his own toilet abroad. There are no servants. You either clean up or suffer the consequences! I am almost certain that it is a routine phenomenon for Prime Minsters in the West to clean their own toilets. It is such a routine thing that no one even thinks it is worth writing about.

So what's the issue here? Why are we so foolish on such an important matter as personal hygiene?

On the other hand, in Japan, clean toilets are a sign of pride. I was reading somewhere that even CEOs of companies clean their toilets, to ensure outstanding hygiene standards. On a passing flight via Tokyo a few years ago I was super-impressed at the high quality of toilets at the airport. Surely that is the standard we must aspire for in India. Not the third rate culture of dirty toilets, and not cleaning one's own toilet. 

This is not just about clean toilets but about the horribly flawed, racist caste system. I believe that the problems in this area along with many others will be resolved through a radically different policy (such as those I advocate in BFN). To the extent social practices are embedded in the Indian psyche and won't be resolved through education, these may need to be changed through social reformers (not government). It won't be enough, to eliminate the obnoxious racist caste system, to build Sulabh sauchalayas. Pathak will have to make all the 'Dalits' into 'Brahmins' in a public ceremony. Or, as I recommend – the  'Dalits' should abandon Hinduism lock, stock, and barrel, and take on – well, nothing! Just become human, please. There is no need for spiritual crutches. We can all reach God ourselves with our own effort (assuming 'He' exists). No middleman is needed, no priest, no pujari.

Anyway, the caste issue is a more complex matter. Now read on about Dr Pathak. 

EXTRACT

Driving away from New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, I noticed a gray, single-story building. It sat in a landscaped gar­den of shrubs and trimmed grass. Groomed gravel paths led through the grounds to two doors at either end of the building, with the uni­versally recognized pictorial symbols for men and women mounted on the doors. There was not a stray bit of litter in sight. The whole thing gleamed. A blue sign with white painted letters on top of the building proclaimed “Sulabh International Public Toilet” in both Eng­lish and Hindi. I stopped my car to investigate the place. There were, I discovered, toilets, as the sign said, and they were spotless. I also found bathing facilities for both men and women, and attendants to look after them. Those who could afford to pay were charged a nom­inal fee, equivalent to a few cents; for those who couldn't, access was free. A young man showed me around. He took pains to take me into the open tracts of land nearby, pointing at the ground to show me that no one had been going to the toilet there. “No shit, no shit,” he kept saying, and I agreed.

In Sanskrit, sulabh is the word for “easy.” The name of the organization, and the thinking behind it, are the work of its founder, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak. Pathak is an upright, handsome man in his sixties who looks far younger. Persuading all Indians to make proper use of toilets, he believes, will resolve many of the country's health and social challenges. It's that easy, he repeats, many times during our conversation. His goal is nothing less than safe, hygienic sanitation for all of India's billion-plus population and liberation for the remaining 250,000 sweepers.

“A toilet in every home, and ample public toilets for travelers and the homeless, would make everything easier,” he said. We were sitting in an office decorated with photos of him with popes, the Dalai Lama, UN agency chiefs, European and Asian leaders and a succession of Indian cabinet ministers. “This would, of course, end waterborne dis­ease. Dysentery and diarrhea cannot exist without human waste to spread them, and if [the waste is] put in a toilet and a sewer, not on the ground or in public, then where's the disease? Do you have any dysentery in America? In Europe? Of course you don't.

“We would eliminate the need for scavengers, the people who still collect the waste in this country in defiance of our laws. There are hundreds of thousands of them still, pulling wooden carts and pick­ing up our waste. This is barbaric, the worst work imaginable, and people who do it are beyond untouchability. No one wants to know them. They are doomed and their children are doomed to illiteracy, alienation, outcast status.”

Pathak prefers the word scavenger to sweeper. He's fond of point­ing out that India's great successes, its self-sufficiency in food, its nu­clear weapons, its space program and information technology companies, all exist alongside a quarter million men, women and chil­dren who work as collectors of human waste. It was their plight, he says, that drew him into the promotion of public toilets and sanita­tion—not some obsession with cleanliness, but concern for a group of people who are perhaps the worst-off in the country. He is a Brah­min, born in the caste-ridden eastern state of Bihar, and he shocked his rather orthodox family when he chose to do research that plumbed the most disgusting depths of the caste system. He lived with sweepers. He went out with them on their rounds and helped them in their odiferous work. He got to know all too intimately the chal­lenges and daily humiliations that come their way. His PhD thesis, now published as a report by Sulabh, is a scathing indictment of an Indian society that could have afforded another system of waste dis­posal but chose to continue with sweepers and scavengers, with all its foul effects. “We [Hindus] have this idea that if we throw our garbage over the wall of our compound, it no longer exists. Similarly, if we move our bowels and the product is taken away by a scavenger, we have done nothing wrong. We have done, in effect, nothing at all. This is in gross defiance of the texts and scriptures of our faith,” he says. Pathak is a devout Hindu, and he takes great umbrage at those within the creed who defend caste-based practices such as scavenging. “It's wrong, it's false, it's blasphemous to say there is any religious justifi­cation for this sort of behavior.” In fact, he says, Hindu scripture specifically prohibits the handling of human waste by other humans.

Pathak also believes that human feces are wasted in India. They could be used as fertilizer or in the generation of electricity or the production of fuel for cooking. The challenge, he says, is to overcome the natural aversion people have to excreta. There are dozens of projects in India and around South Asia to turn human waste into cooking gas. Sulabh backs several of them. Waste is deposited into a sealed concrete container with a valve on top. As the waste mater degrades, it produces methane gas that can be pressurized and burnt as fuel. Although it burns cleanly and without odor, biogas, as it's known, is a hard sell in many communities. People remain dubious, not convinced that it won't contaminate food or their homes.

Sulabh encourages people to build toilets appropriate to their surroundings and using available materials. In arid climates, where water is at a premium, this might be a drop toilet, where the feces are allowed to dry on a platform well below the seat, to minimize odor. Where the climate is damper, the organization encourages people to dig septic fields and make use of plants to help process and purify waste water. Britain's Prince Charles has a natural sewage-procesing pond on his estate in Dorset that uses common bulrushes to cleanse waste water. The prince is one of many well-known supporters of Suthlabh's work. Some environments are more suitable for pit toilets. Others need running water and a connection to sewer pipes. Those who are willing can connect their toilets to a biogas generator. There are few kinds of loo that Sulabh doesn't design and build.

The organization also has a toilet museum, which includes a working model of the first flush mechanism, designed by the English engineer Thomas Crapper in the nineteenth century. But what’s most impressive about Pathak is how, like Veer Badra Mishra, he remains a devout Hindu while acknowledging that his faith enables horrible forms of discrimination and unacceptable behavior. It is true that there is no scriptural justification for scavenging, but because it is a social practice that dates from ancient times, there is a belief in India that Hindu tradition condones it. Pathak rejects this. He urges fellow Brahmins and other members of higher castes to adopt scavenger families and oversee their education and development. He puts the touchables and untouchables in touch, if you will, and stresses how this is true Hindu practice. Some fifty thousand scavengers, he says proudly, are no longer collecting human waste, thanks to his efforts. They work in offices, factories and at Sulabh itself, spreading the word about toilets. Their children attend an English medium school to learn about Shakespeare and sewing machines and, once they graduate, they need never take on the task undertaken by their parents and grandparents.

Source : http://sabhlokcity.com/tag/bindeshwar-pathak/?wpmp_switcher=mobile

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, India.

Open defecation is a crippling issue and has to be end at all costs

When you gotta go, you gotta go! But majority of South Asians, quite unfortunately, don’t even care where they do it! The region has the dubious distinction of getting the highest open defecation in the world, standing at a staggering 48%. And India has over 50% of that figure. Foreign tourists may find it quite an exciting photo opportunity but isn’t it time India got rid of this dark blot on its growth story?

Ignorance is bliss indeed, if we could apply it eternally. It’s quite jolting to know that 4-5 lakh (according to Planning Commission) children below the age of 5 die every year of waterborne diseases. Poor sewage and lack of proper sanitation infrastructure result in 80% of diseases in India. Only around 40% of Indians have access to toilets, resulting in open defecation. In addition, industrial waste creates severe ground water pollution, causing health hazards.



In this context, the efforts of Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak for installing 6,50,000 toilets and 62 excreta-based biogas plants under the Sulabh Sanitation Movement are worth mentioning. The effort started from his home state, Bihar where scavenging human waste is not uncommon. Moreover, installation of portable toilets and community sanitation systems, especially in slums, will reap huge benefits. The same can be used for generation of biogas and even water. 



As India adds millions to its population, the problem will only get compounded. Measures like rewards for cleanliness, recycling methods including conversion to fertilisers, methods that use less water (considering India’s water shortage problem), have to be continued with missionary zeal. We can’t allow this scourge to continue.

Source : http://www.businessandeconomy.org/25062009/storyd.asp?sid=4427&pageno=1

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, India.

 

It’s something almost all of us take for granted, and it’s definitely not a glamorous thing to get involved with, but this country is the perfect example of how wrong things can go when we skip over this essential part of infrastructure.

Meeting Dr. Pathak, the founder of Sulabh International was really inspiring.  When he started back in the 1970s everyone told him he was crazy to even care about both sanitation, and in turn, the untouchable class—especially as a Brahmin, it was considered highly abnormal and unseemly.  But he stuck to it against seemingly insurmountable odds, and after a lot of research and tinkering, he was able to invent the “two-pit toilet” – the solution for poor communities who didn’t have a functional sanitation system.  Not only was it economical and sustainable, it was environmentally-friendly.  Fun fact – each person produces on average 1.5 cubic feet of “nightsoil” per year.  They use this measurement when calculating how big to make the pits– each pit is supposed to last for two years, then blocked off to create compost while the second pit is in use.  He also founded a research institute to investigate the production and use of natural biogas (the plant was incredibly smelly, but very interesting – they even use the biogas generated on the campus to power their own kitchen).

He expanded his brainchild into an empire of 1 million private toilets, and 8000 public toilet complexes in India, as well as in Afghanistan and Bangladesh and parts of Africa.  We went to see some of the free toilets they have set up in a slum nearby — there is an estimated 20,000 people in the one slum (nobody is sure, since it’s not a registered slum), and one official toilet.  There is another mobile toilet, but it’s so far from the slum, it’s no wonder that no one really uses them, so most of the people just cross the train tracks behind the slum and use the grass.

I knew some things about the untouchables, but I’m sorry to admit this– prior to my week at the Sulabh campus, I was blissfully (if that is the right word) unaware of the existence of this particular “sub-class” of people in India—they are responsible for manually cleaning the rich people’s toilets, and carrying the “nightsoil” on baskets on their heads.  It is difficult to imagine doing that work, but not the humiliation associated with it.  They were forced to wear bells to warn people that they were approaching, sweep their footprints from the pathway as they walked, only allowed to drink water if a good Samaritan offered, had to tie a basket around their neck so they didn’t spit on the ground, and weren’t ever allowed into any temples.  Trying to follow in Gandhi’s footsteps, Dr. Pathak founded a school that integrated children from both scavenging and non-scavenging classes to bridge the gap and blend the two sections of society (it reminded me of how schools in America integrated black and white kids in the 60s).  They have a mixed setup where 40% of the kids are from ‘normal castes’ and pay the regular fees, and the rest are from the scavenging families.

He also created Nae Disha, an organization based in Alwar, that helps rehabilitate the scavenging women by giving them vocational training.  Between the two, there were classes on embroidery, tailoring, cooking and food processing, beauty techniques, fashion design, computers, electrical work, arts and crafts, and maths.  In the last few years, the story of their liberation has exploded across the globe.  They were even invited to New York to present their fashion designs, talk at UN conferences, and are the subject of a book titled “The New Princesses of Alwar.”

[Sorry to disappoint you guys, I know you were looking forward to a story involving Pepto-Bismol]

Source : http://adventuresindia.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/toilet-troubles/

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, India.

In spirituality lies the essence of happiness,” says Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International Social Service Organization, considered one of the biggest NGOs in India and a pioneer in low-cost sanitation. In 1969 Dr Pathak was entrusted a special job by a committee set up during the Gandhi centenary celebrations in Patna, India. The committee aimed to liberate scavengers. Fascinated by the idea, he read literature on public health and hygiene, including books on disposal of night soil in rural areas. The committee failed to make an impact. But Pathak did. He resigned from the committee and designed a flush toilet, which functioned without being connected to the sewerage system. This was the beginning of Sulabh Shauchalaya.

Dr Pathak has since been honored with Padma Bhushan, the International Saint Francis Prize for the Environment, the NRI Gold Award and the most recent Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment 2000.

Says he: “Life cannot be happy and fulfilling without spirituality. Whoever is spiritual will think differently from a non-spiritual person. And depending on the line of thought a person follows, the fruits are borne accordingly. It’s God who decides life for us as we are mere pawns in his hands.”

But he cautions: “It’s important to note that spirituality and religion are two different things. And combining them can be disastrous.” Citing an example, he states: “(Lord) Rama exercised his powers with spirituality and bhakti (faith) and vanquished Ravana(epic character in the Ramayana) . But Ravana, although an extremely religious person, combined his powers with ego and that was his undoing.”

Born into an upper-caste family in Bihar,India, Dr Pathak makes a rueful observation: “The sad fact is that a newborn child is tied into three bonds-religion, caste and thought. And on growing up it’s difficult for him to come out of any of these. But whoever does, is a great man. And in a sense becomes one with God.”

He recalls an incident when he had gone to the Somnath temple and tears rolled down his cheeks for several minutes. “I had lost myself in God. And a similar incident occurred at home. One can’t express these experiences in words.”

Dr Pathak is a keen observer. “In life I have learnt a lot by what I read or from people I meet and interact with,” he says. But no, he’s never followed a guru. “We look for God in others but not in our own self. As for me, I do introspection and that’s the main aim of being spiritual.”

Although he watches television programs of Asaram Bapu and Dada Vaswani, Dr Pathak finds Osho very convincing. “I am impressed by his thoughts and sayings. For instance, he says, the body has mind, mind has intellect and in intellect is enlightenment (chaitanya). Toh jiski chetna jaag jaati hai, woh insaan hi duniya ko dekh aur bhog sakta hai. Aur woh hi bhagwan ko prapt kar sakta hai (Only he who has been enlightened can realize life and God). How philosophical!” he comments.

As far as Sulabh is concerned, sanitation has been treated as dharma. “Dharma means vishwas (belief),” he opines. “Sanitation is our religion and human development is thought of as karma and spirituality. I believe that whatever we are doing in this birth will be paid for in the next. What we all are going through is of the past birth. In our organization we have a system of a morning prayer.”

The best teaching, he feels, is to create sensitivity and sensibility in a person.

Dr Pathak is credited with introducing the idea of obtaining bio—gas from human excreta. Despite heavy odds, he set up the first bio—gas plant in Patna, India, in 1982, after six years of research. Today, more than 60 bio—gas plants are operational in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and other states in India. “Lack of sanitation and hygiene is a national health hazard. And it should be tackled on a war footing. The subject of toilets is much more important than any other social challenge.”

A quiet reformer, he believes “it’s a misconception that business and ethics can’t go together. Right from the inception if you decide that you will not use unfair means, your business will flourish and whatever the hardships, you’ll overcome them. But if the foundation is laid on dishonesty and distrust, no business can survive for long. But money certainly can’t buy peace or happiness”.

In his pursuits and ambitions, the crusader under went hardships but remained positive. “Whenever you feel something is not going in your favor, you feel unhappy. The first rule is to go back from where you began. You’ll find you were better off. Go through your achievement list. You’ll feel better and positive. Whoever sees that remains happy but if you try to go beyond your means, you’ll feel melancholic. Moreover, trust in God minimizes sufferings. If burdens are left to Him, they are taken care of.” Continues Dr Pathak: “Contentment is also a feeling. Who’s unhappy on what front who knows? Difficulties after all are not just related to oneself. Your work and family are as much a part. It may not be your creation, but since it’s related, it affects you. But don’t let negative thoughts come in. And when they do, faith in spirituality helps. I can’t say I’m an extremely happy person. But yes, I try to remain happy and content.

REFERENCE FROM: http://www.lifepositive.com

Source : http://bestdreamerofworld.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/dr-bindeshwar-pathak-founder-of-sulabh-toilet/