Critically discuss the sociological challenges posed by poor sanitation and open defecation in India.

Open defecation leads to a number of sociological challenges. In India, open defecation is a well-established traditional practice deeply ingrained from early childhood. Sanitation is not a socially acceptable topic, and as a result, people do not discuss it. Open defecation has persisted as a norm for many Indians. In addition to tradition and the communication taboo, the practice still exists due to poverty. Many of the poorest people will not prioritise toilets. Building and owning a toilet is seen as the government’s responsibility, rather than a priority that individual households should take responsibility for. The challenge is to motivate people to see a toilet as fundamental to their social standing, status and well-being.
The practice of open defecation is not limited to rural India. It is found in urban areas as well. In urban areas it is driven by a number of reasons including, lack of space to build toilets in high-density settlements and tenants unwilling to invest in toilets where landlords do not provide them.
The measures which can be undertaken to curb the practice are:

  • Involvement of NGOs and Gram Panchayats to spread awareness of hygienic living and the importance of sanitation.
  • Educating the children in school will also go a long way in creating awareness about the importance of sanitation.

To curb open defecation and promote sanitation has been the motto ever since Gandhiji’s time. It has been rightly promoted by our current prime minister to curb open defecation.


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