"Q.28 (Business Standard) Ending open defecation - The issue is deathly serious because widespread open defecation in India often leads to contamination of the water supply. • More than half of India's population defecates in the open. The numbers have not come down much despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's bold target of building 110 million toilets and making India free of this practice by 2019. • Research shows that people in India seek to build enormous open-pit latrines because they fear the 'polluting' aspects in caste terms of closing and emptying them, even long after the faeces has decomposed. • Indian open-pit latrines are thus not as affordable as those built in Bangladesh, say, where less than five per cent of the population defecate in the open. • A national survey showed that less than half of the toilets built in the Swachh Bharat mission are being used for defecation, but doing duty instead as small granaries or as store rooms. The issue is deathly serious because widespread open defecation in India often leads to contamination of the water supply. • In turn, repeated bouts of diarrhea suffered by many toddlers in India contribute to high numbers of children dying before they reach the age of five and malnutrition and impaired learning abilities among those who survive. • Indian government needs to recast its effort to communicate the benefits of not defecating in the open. "They (the government) are counting the number of toilets instead of counting the number of open defecators". • Swachh Bharat also risks becoming an exercise in meeting numerical targets in terms of building toilets while the social ill of open defecation remains unchecked. Between April and December 2015, 7.68 million toilets were built in rural households across India, a significant increase from the roughly five million built in the last full year of the previous government, 2013-2014. But, usage patterns remain unchanged and anecdotal evidence suggests the government's big push might even be contributing to corruption since in many cases, funds are being funneled through village leaders without adequate administrative oversight to see that toilets are actually being built or are functional. • Under Diane Coffey and Dean Spears, the organisation has arguably done the best research on how widespread open defecation is in India and the social attitudes that make it so prevalent. Given the damaging impact on public health from defecating in fields and by the roadside in urban areas, a government so publicly casting about for big ideas ought to have done so by now. OTHER PRACTICE QUESTIONS

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