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There is definitely a crisis of water in India. But it is always articulated within the narrow confines of 'shortfall' and 'scarcity'. We are ignoring the fact there is a serious crisis of management, of over-consumption, pollution and worse, glaring inequity of water access by the poor. With World Water Day (March 22) around the corner, we'd like to ignore the scaremongering about the world running out of water, and ask instead if along with water, wisdom to manage it is also in short supply.
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On the evening of 13 August 1865, at a mental asylum in Lazarettgasse in Vienna, Dr Ignaz Fülöp Semmelweis was pronounced dead. His body was brought back to his hometown of Pest (now Budapest) in Hungary and at his burial on the 15th of August, not a single member of his family was present. Semmelweis died as he had perhaps lived. Unloved and uncared for.
Toilets in schools are being dished out like <em>paani puris</em> at a busy market on a Sunday evening. Analysis of Swachh Vidyalaya campaign data reveals that in the 15 days between 27 July and 11 August, 2015, approximately 89,000 school toilets were constructed. Expectedly, the government has engaged in arthritis-inducing backslapping at having constructed 5933 school toilets per day. And predictably researchers and sanitation professionals are viewing these numbers with suspicion.
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In India, people are caught between weak regulation and low awareness. The helplessness is multiplied by the fact that even if you knew your water was unsafe, there is very little you can do about it.
Crowd mapping is currently a crowded space in Nepal. However, producing maps and data is just one part of the story. Getting them consumed and acted upon for relief, rescue and coordination is another. It has been relatively easier to get thousands of volunteers across the world to work together on maps than getting 10 organisations to work together on the ground to save lives.
With the law necessitating certain businesses to grow a conscience for compliance, the philanthropic marketplace in India is suddenly thicker than hair on a dog's back. Demanding miracles from CSR units in such early years is unrealistic. However, fascinating insights and challenges are emerging in its infancy. Gathering some of them in this article may help set the compass.
Toilets are definitely trending in India. Our mornings either begin with a full-page advertisement for Swachh Bharat in the newspaper or exhortations on radio and television. There is a new-found official and public interest in sanitation. However, many commentators proffer silver bullets that seem commonsensical, but have been tried, tested and discarded. Here we try to dispel five myths that are currently sneaking into policy and practice.