We were glad to see an editorial highlighting the real and enormous consequences of exceptionally widespread open defecation in India. We could not agree more that India urgently needs its citizens, activists, scholars, journalists, and policy-makers everywhere to turn their attention and their efforts to this problem. However, we believe that their analysis underestimates the problem.
We recently spoke with a retired public servant who built a latrine about a year ago that is used by only three of the thirteen people in his family. He told us that “if a man wants to stay healthy, then he should [defecate] outside,” and that in his village “you’ll find a latrine in everyone’s house, but I don’t want to go in one…I think going in latrines is disgusting.”
This man’s beliefs were far from unique. Many of the people that we spoke with in rural Haryana felt similarly. Read our response for more of our initial findings from the field.