The Sach Behind Swachh


The Sach Behind Swachh

Illustration: Saachi Mehta/Arré


ust a few years back if someone had asked Nandini Rana about the existence of functioning toilets in Chandan Chowki, she would have reacted with amazement. Not because there had never been toilets before in Lakhimpur Kheri, the largest district of Uttar Pradesh, but because even after being constructed several times in the past, they had hardly been used.

Nandini Rana was merely pointing out what the development sector had already known. The biggest problem in India has never been the building of toilets – it has always been promoting their use. Toilet use has never been an embedded cultural practice in India’s rural areas and the people who need them the most – the women – have never had the power to demand them. Several communities in the interior parts of the country live a fairly insulated life. People like the Tharus have never gone out of their district for employment and live in a world of their own. And that world has never included toilets.