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Shashi Tharoor writes about sanitation and r.i.c.e. research!

Blog Post1 min read

Author, diplomat and Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor recently wrote an NDTV blog on sanitation quoting liberally from r.i.c.e. research! Here’s what he says:

As Health Minister Harshvardhan has pointed out, poor sanitation breeds infections and leads to major public health problems; studies have proved a correlation between poor public hygiene and the stunted growth of many poor Indian children, while better sanitation leads to lower infant-mortality rates. A study by scholarsDean Spears and Sneha Lamba proves that children using toilets have better cognitive skills than those who don’t. “Our results suggest,” they conclude, “that open defecation is an important threat to the human capital of the Indian labour force.”

But our government has discovered that even when toilets are built, people continue to defecate in the open, most out of sheer habit. An estimated 53 per cent of Indians still do so: one survey across several north Indian states learned that 47% found open defecation “pleasurable, comfortable or convenient”.

Dr. Tharoor is refering to the paper “Effects of early-life exposure to rural sanitation on childhood cognitive skills” by Dean and Sneha, and to theSQUAT survey.

The rest of the Dr. Tharoor’s blog is quite nice, too. He thinks sanitation is an issue that everyone should be concerned about, moving beyond tokenism, and why cultural habits. Do read the blog!


r.i.c.e. is a non-profit research organization focused on health and well-being in India. Our core focus is on children in rural north India. Our research studies health care at the start of life, sanitation, air pollution, maternal health, social inequality, and other dimensions of population-level social wellbeing.

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