NEW DELHI – Volunteers in India armed with drums and whistles are to lead a crackdown on going to the toilet in public under a new scheme in the western state of Rajasthan, a report said Monday.
“We are constructing public toilets… and people will be encouraged to use them,” Ramniwas Jat, head of the state’s Jhunjhunu district council, told the Times of India.
“We want to raise awareness against the practice of urinating in public, which gave birth to the idea of beating drums and blowing whistles.”
The Times said that volunteers, who will be paid a small wage, would embarrass people caught urinating or defecating by standing behind them and letting loose a barrage of noise.
Guilty parties would also have their names read out on public address systems.
Defecating in the open is a serious social issue in India, touching on health, hygiene, women’s rights and the clash between traditional and modern lifestyles.
Women often refuse to go to the toilet outdoors during daylight hours to preserve their modesty, so they must go before dawn or wait many hours before it is dark again.
Walking barefoot where villagers defecate every day also spreads diseases such as tapeworm, and many children play close to outdoor latrine areas.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh recently encouraged future brides to check their new family’s home to ensure it had an indoor toilet before accepting any marriage proposal.
Earlier this year he said India should be ashamed that nearly 60 per cent of all people in the world who defecate in the open were in India.