Home > Agriculture, Asia, India > Why Indians are Too Stupid to Build Toilets – were it not for the Media!

Why Indians are Too Stupid to Build Toilets – were it not for the Media!

There has been a ghastly rape in some Indian village. Two girls got raped and later hanged by the perpetrators after “they left their toilet-less home during the night to relieve themselves”.

Toilets are not the problem in India …

If you believe most of the media, then Indians, despite them being one of the first cultured people are too stupid to build toilets close to (or in) their homes.

Now Crisismaven actually was as old as these girls when in the heart of Europe, in rural areas as well as in the large cities, we still had no toilets but ramshackle wooden sheds in the backyard. You got your private parts frozen when you went out there in winter.

So, we even had stools with pots in them and then in the morning we’d empty them into that hole in the ground. That saved us from having to go out there in the dark and the cold (and no, at least grown men and women did not fear the dark out there – it was just easier to use the pot overnight).

In some areas city councils made it mandatory to get these holes emptied regularly. This was the job of a special “caste” of entrepreneurs that were not held in great esteem, but everyone needed them.

… nor are Indians too stupid to defecate closer to home!

Now are our Western media (and their urban, Western-educated Indian followers too) suggesting that the average Indian farmer or rural blacksmith (or whatever) is just too stupid to make the transition to the twenty-first century?

Or is there maybe a reason that is far more practical to this custom even if it means wandering far afield?

One of India’s methods of fertilisation: open-field defecation!

Indeed, there is: defecation in the open fields is a means of fertilisation!

In many areas this has been practiced for thousands of years and the success of their sustainable agriculture depends on the method.

Let’s take this back a bit to Indira Gandhi’s population control craze: Back then, in the late 1970s, the Indian government unleashed a campaign of “voluntary sterilisation” esp. for men. However, while they may have offered incentives to the men to let themselves be sterilised, they also offered a “per case” incentive to the doctors who traveled the countryside with mobile operating theatres under police or military protection.

Since the men began to hide when news of such a posse about to visit their village spread, these gangs adapted their method.

They lay in wait for the farmers when, at the break of dawn, they would wander into their fields for their “morning toilet”. Soon men would not go anymore.

Like with Mao’s Great Leap Forward in China (as an example of another socialist experiment) between 1958 and 1962, soon fields became less fertile. Harvests became smaller and in some areas it took years to reach the “pre-sterilisation” levels of crop yields.

Now, CrisisMaven wonders: will those who advocate toilets in these regions of India not only give them a toilet (a small one-off investment for any gung-ho charity) but will they then also pay for their fertiliser for years to come? Or will they simply learn not to apply Western standards to cultures that are anyway a lot older than theirs?

Categories: Agriculture, Asia, India Tags: ,
  1. 2014-07-07 at 13:46

    Why would the age of a culture be a factor in this?

    • 2014-07-07 at 16:25

      Actually, a good point. What I meant to say is: the Indian culture is older than our Western “cultures” – yet our media readily think that Indians are too immature to consider building toilets. Don’t know if it makes more sense now ;-)

      • 2014-07-08 at 07:21

        Neither do I. Do you have reason to believe in a certain correlation between a culture’s age and its members’ maturity? Or are you just kidding, and I’m a pedantic idiot?

        • 2014-07-08 at 11:38

          Well, Muriel, looking at the Greeks and the Egyptians, my argument probably makes little sense … although: the Indians are still well versed in their old religious scripture whereas no Greek knows much about nor identifies himself with “his”/”her” ancient roots (even if we forget about the “cradle of democracy” bullshit, which it wasn’t). Equally the Egyptians are cut off from their old religion. However, the Persians aren’t (there still are some Zoroastrians) and I have reason to believe they show a different earnest in the way they comport themselves. But maybe it is all wishful thinking of a Westerner who wants to see the roots of where the Grimm brothers in their linguistic studies also hoped they could go.

  2. Vidhu
    2014-06-12 at 15:52

    “Harvests became smaller and in some areas it took years to reach the “pre-sterilisation” levels of crop yields.”

    Would you be able to cite a source?

    Interesting article though. However, I doubt any Indian villager consciously thinks of this while defecating in the fields. The fact is that poor governance has led to this sorry state where 50% of Indians don’t have toilets. In the cities it is a serious health hazard.

    Plus, considering that women are getting raped when going out to the fields at night, I’d rather build toilets for them and use tax payer money to provide subsidized fertilizers. (From an environmental standpoint, I agree that isn’t the best move, but we are talking about human lives here.)

    • 2014-06-12 at 16:51

      Well, why would he/she not think consciously “think” of doing it in the fields. No one wolks hundreds of yards if not miles if he/she could do it in their backyard or “around the corner”. This HAS to be planned and premeditated!
      P.S.: Will try to find a linkable source for the crop shortfall. Problem is that was in the 1970s in printed European newspapers.

      • Vidhu
        2014-06-12 at 17:10

        The villager is not conscious of the fact that this is a means of fertilizing the fields. If he/she had access to a toilet, she’d use it of course. She doesn’t do it near her house because she wants to keep the house clean. In the past, all the bathrooms (in India) were far away from the house. Even today, while designing modern homes, most people don’t like to have the bathroom right near the kitchen. There is just some kind of repulsion when it comes to the bathroom.

        Villager and Indians in general are not ecologically aware. They don’t care for the environment. They in fact object to rules promoting sustainability. Recent example – the government banned the use of plastic bags in some cities, and guess who is protesting most? – the common man.

      • 2014-07-04 at 15:12

        Hi CrisisMaven, I think I may have found what you were referring to – an article in “Der SPIEGEL” May 5th 1977: “… wagten sich viele Bauern zum Dämmer-Stuhlgang nicht mehr hinaus … ” (the men were afraid to go to the fields to defecate, just as you said). Source: http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-40915648.html

  3. stupidman
    2014-06-12 at 15:36

    Wtf did I read

  4. 2014-06-13 at 11:32

    Thanks for mentioning me on your blog!

  1. 2014-06-12 at 23:52

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