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Despite getting significant chunks of their revenue from routes out of and to India, several international airlines use their most dated aircraft on this sector. Indeed, South Asia — including the most lucrative destination, India — gets almost as raw a deal from international airlines as that other neglected part of the globe, Africa. While some of the blame for this ought to go to a Civil Aviation Ministry that seems not to care about the comfort of Indian passengers, it is the tendency of Indians to accept sub-optimal conditions sans demur that has resulted in the abysmal standards of service that we are enduring across the board, including in public administration.

Given the handicaps that come from being born in 
Uttar Pradesh, a place where policies get pursued 
that accentuate rather than alleviate poverty, 
it would have been expected that Ms Bharti 
meekly accept the absence of toilet facilities 
at the home of her in-laws.

Priyanka Bharti is an Indian, living in Uttar Pradesh, a state that has become internationally known for its administrative incompetence and non-existent delivery of public services. Given the handicaps that come from being born in a setting where policies get pursued that accentuate rather than alleviate poverty, it would have been expected that Ms Bharti meekly accept the absence of toilet facilities at the home of her in-laws. After all, the fields (and pavements) in India have served as "restrooms" for millennia. However, this young lady refused to stay in a dwelling that had no toilet. More, her parents accepted this decision and welcomed her back, rather than throw her at the mercy of her in-laws. Given the poverty in UP, it is anybody’s guess as to what would have happened had not Sulabh International come along and given her in-laws’ home a toilet and two other rooms besides, thus once again showing that only the non-state sector has the will to truly improve matters. The state sector swallows up prodigious amounts of taxpayer rupees and gives back to citizens the same substance that Sulabh International has been dealing with since its inception, a substance that shall go unnamed in the interests of reader decorum.

Hopefully, more Priyanka Bhartis will emerge from towns and villages across India, who refuse to accept their wretched conditions of existence as the inevitable kismat decreed by a cruel and unchangeable fate. And it would be about time. If statistics are any guide (and these usually underplay the extent of poverty), more than 20 million homes in UP are without toilet facilities. Priyanka, in demanding elementary human rights, is the exception. Her example needs to become the norm.