research institute for compassionate economics

Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen releases a commendable ad to promote twin pit latrines!

Written by Nazar Khalid on July 2nd, 2018

The Swacch Bharat Mission Grameen recently launched an advertisement campaign video with Hindi movie stars Bhumi Pednekar and Akshay Kumar. In the video the actors educate viewers about how twin pit latrines work. The ad also teaches viewers how the decomposed feces can be used for greater farming benefits and prosperity.
An important feature of the ad which distinctly stands out is that Akshay Kumar touches the decomposed feces with his own hands. We know from years of field research that misplaced beliefs and untouchability-related barriers around handling of feces is one important reason why such a high fraction of the Indian population still defecates in the open. The message of this advertisement is therefore really important, and its makers should be commended.

For the readers who don’t understand Hindi, here is a translation of the dialogues from the video.
Mishra [M]: [In an astonished tone] So many varieties of flowers and fruits…this is incredible!
Akshay Kumar [AK]: It’s all because of the latrine Mishra.
M: [surprised and with a disgusted look on his face] LATRINE?
Bhumi Pednekar [BP]: [disapproving of Mishra’s tone and disgusted face] Yes, the latrine..and that also with two pits.
BP: I had made it clear to him at the time of our marriage, seven years ago, that if there is no toilet in the house then I wouldn’t marry him.
AK: And what did I say then? If I get a toilet, it must be one with the twin pits.
M: [surprised] Two pits…why?
AK: One pit will get filled in five years with regular use. After that, start using the other pit by changing the lever.
M: What is the need to do all this…why not empty the filled pit itself and then start using again? They are just feces.
AK: These are not just feces…these are gold!
M: [Disgusted facial gesture] chhee chhee (eww)
AK: If this pit is closed and left for a year…this will turn into gold.
BP: [with a tray of decomposed feces] That is, sonkhaad (gold in the form of manure).
AK: [lifts the decomposed feces by his hands from the tray] Spread this sonkhad in your field and then experience the blessings of the latrine.
M [convinced and excited] Even I am going to build a latrine with two pits.
BP: [handing Mishra a tray full of fruits and vegetables] Give this to your wife as gift from us.
AK: This is a gift from the land, Mishra.
AK and BP [together]: The best latrine is one that has two pits.