research institute for compassionate economics

This article was not based on the SQUAT survey. It says exactly what we keep saying.

Written by Aashish Gupta on June 9th, 2014

Pritha Chatterjee has an amazing report in the Indian Express from the area in Uttar Pradesh where horrible violence on young girls was reported in the media recently.

I do like it. We ourselves found many of these things in our surveys, and here are a couple of paragraphs that could well have been from the switching study or the SQUAT survey:

“It was in 2002 that the last survey to identify BPL families for the Indira Awaas Yojana was carried out in the village. Pradhan Kamal Kant admits that many villagers like Bhajan Singh who were sanctioned money for a room and a toilet under the programme never actually constructed the toilets. Of those who did, still fewer use them.

Ram Awas says he could spare money only for a simple hole encircled by a little cemented area for squatting. “People said there was no point using the hole as a toilet because it would fill up. So I started keeping cowdung cakes in the hole,” he says.

Bal Ram lives in a hut made of straw and hay. But in the courtyard, there is a toilet made of bricks, built from money allocated through the government programme in 2012. In the four years since it was built, it has been used mostly as a chulha (stove) or a room where neighbouring women gather to chat in the afternoons. Only about a few months ago did Ram’s wife Kamla Devi start using it, but only for urination.

“We have never done our business inside the home,” she explains. “What if the men hear us? Now, after so many years, I have mastered the courage to go there sometimes. But I cannot imagine defecating inside. It is too shameful to do it inside the home.” The men of the house always go to the fields.

Kamal Kant has a toilet at his home, built with his own money years ago. A Brahmin, he says the reluctance to use toilets is not defined by caste but by education. “Whether it’s Brahmins, Yadavs, SCs or OBCs, you will find toilets being used to store utensils or other household objects. People here have no or very little schooling. Many women come up to me fearfully requesting a toilet, but the men of the house take the decisions. They will use their finances to build rooms, but not a toilet because they don’t feel the need for it,” he says.

We don’t agree with the Kamal Kant, though. We found a lot of educated people defecating in the open and defending it. But thats okay. We agree with the rest.