Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee


Tale of the Toilet

India has over 950 million mobile handsets. It also has the largest number of people in the world defecating in open.  As per Swachhta Status Report in 2015, more than half of the rural population (52 per cent) of the country still defecate in open. In this regard India fare poorly compared to even poor African countries. As per the report, Sub-Saharan Africa, which had 65 per cent of the GDP per capita of India, had only about half of the rural open defecation compared to India.

According to TRAI figures, rural India has close to 500 million telecom user. Meaning every second person in rural India defecates in the open, while there are two and half mobile phones for every two persons. That precisely means there are hundreds of thousands of people who own a mobile phone but defecate in the open.

I am talking about mobile phones to underline the point that it is not the question of money when it comes to constructing a toilet. According to NSSO data, the people of rural India spend 25.33 per cent of their income on the use of mobile phones and telephones. It is the question of perceived utility. One thinks it is important and useful for him/her to own a mobile handset and use it rather than have a toilet and use it. This ‘use’ part warrants more attention. Often toilets are there but they are not used. For various reasons.  It teaches us a lesson: it is not enough to create the facility; care has to be taken to ensure that the facility is actually used for the purpose for which it has been created. There is no point in pouring in subsidy to build toilets which are used as store room.

Sanitation is not just about toilets. It is an issue that also concerns drinking water and health departments as every day people defecating in the open leave behind 1 lakh tones of excreta. This pollutes water sources leading to diseases.  But the stake holder departments do not work hand in hand. Sanitation campaign has been reduced to a toilet construction drive.

Nobody forced people to use mobile phones. It happened because people found it to be useful. Peer pressure was also a factor initially. Let us hope by aggressively highlighting the positive and utilitarian aspect of having and using toilet does the same. Shaming will not work. Neither will subsidy. Subsidy culture will only fatten the babus.

Indian Post

World Post day is celebrated on 9 October to celebrate the foundation of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) on this day in 1874 at Berne, Switzerland. It presently has more than 150 countries including India.

World Post day is celebrated to create awareness on the role and services of postal sector and its contribution to the social and economic growth of a country. India observes National Postal Week from 9 to 13 October.

Postal Services in India have a glorious and colourful history. Started in pre-British era and strengthened in British era, India Post till recently has been the life line of communication across the country. It had and continues to have two more services- small banking and Life Insurance. In fact Postal Life Insurance introduced in 1884 is the oldest life insurance scheme in the country.

As on 31.03.2016 India had 1,54,910 post offices including one situated at the highest altitude in the world.

With time India Post is changing. In an era of instant digital communication, snail mail is losing out. So India Post is gradually shifting towards high-volume post, and financial services. The strength of India Post is its massive reach and reliability. It is trying to utilise its strength by foregrounding its banking and other financial services.

Tailpiece 1: Innocent Question

Holi me raang mat khelo, pani barbad hota hai.

Diwali me patakhe mat jalao, pollution hota hai.


To iska matlab ha tyohar hum sirf daaru pi ke manaye?

(Don’t  celebrate Hoki with colours; it wastes lots of water. Don’t burst cracker on Diwali. It causes pollution.

So does that mean we celebrate all festivals just drinking alcohol?)


Female photo uploaded in FB:….. so cute,……nice pic, .……lookin great,….mind blowing, ……I m speechless, …….(by more than 500 friends)

Male photo uploaded: ….. ye pic hey yaa tooth pick?…..u r lookin famine stricken yaar.….. uncle u r looking smart, ye aunty ki pasand hey kya !……(by 5 fake friends)

(Courtesy: Sudhansu Deo on Facebook)


A journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, a Central Odisha hilly town. He also writes fiction. [email protected]