India may be a member of an elite club that includes the US, Russia and Europe when the country’s Mars Orbiter Mission, the cheapest interplanetary mission ever to be undertaken by the world, successfully entered the Martian orbit. Space exploration to the red planet has rarely been successful, but after a journey of 300 days and 420 million miles, India saw its satellite arrive in orbit.
Ironically, however, on the ground, India faces a huge health and sanitation problem among its people.
According to World Bank study India’s shortage of toilets costs the country more than $50 billion a year, mostly through premature deaths and hygiene-related diseases.
India suffers a greater cost than other Asian countries from the poor collection of human excreta, the study found.
About 626 million Indians defecate in the open compared with 14 million in China, the World Health Organization said in a 2012 report.
Since taking office in May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly lamented the poor state of sanitation and public cleanliness in India, vowing to solve the problems within the next five years.
In August Modi targeted for every household to have a toilet by 2019 and since October, the government has supplied more than 500,000 toilets to the general population.
However, many people have decided to use them as storerooms rather than bathrooms because they believe it is more sanitary to go to the toilet far away from the house, in the open, rather than in it.
“Earlier, the monitoring was done only about the construction of toilets, but now the actual use of toilets will be ascertained,” the government said in a latest statement.
Thus, an Indian team of “sanitary inspectors” will be checking the use of toilets “online.” Armed with mobile devices, experts will be going door-to-door to make sure locals, many of whom prefer streets, use civilized toilets as required.