Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition

Many children in India are exposed to a bacterial brew from human waste that may make it impossible for food alone to cure their malnutrition.
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Its funny how an expatriate like you know less than the foreigners. You should get your facts straight. Lower-caste people WERE forced to do the 'cleaning' in the earlier times and continue to do so, albeit not all over the country. Caste system WAS a part of the Hindu religion. And why does the government need to provide toilets for its citizens? Because its poor. Why were they poor in the first place? Because of the caste system. You don't see many higher caste people doing their 'cleaning' even now. In fact only recently was a BAN on the 'cleaning job' imposed.
Take a good look at rural places the next time you are in INDIA.

6 2018-11-04 00:44:09 - MarK

I am surprised to read this. Which Hindu text are you referring to, and to what part of this text? Or are you just plain making it up and nearly all my brethren do?

1 2017-12-07 01:58:34 - Kalidan

That may be true ... but the net population flow is still in this direction.

0 2017-09-23 11:59:39 - ken h

Mother Nature has a way of correcting bad behavior - it's just a matter of time.

11 2017-09-07 10:42:48 - wingding

OK. Hindu religion doesn't encourage Hindus to defecate willy-nilly ... but for some unspecified reason Indian Hindus are much more likely to do so than non-Hindu Indians. And Indian Hindus are more likely to do so than non-Indian Hindus. We don't know why -- but it's fact. Does that mollify your offended religious sensibilities?

2 2017-09-02 08:31:41 - ken h

Like the article said, Gandhi said all this in 1925. Meanwhile, we see icebergs melting, children all over the world ravaged by violence, corporations grabbing what they can; but do we stop, look around, face the mirror?

4 2017-08-24 16:58:49 - NJacana

And their priorities are bullet trains and space exploration

44 2017-07-13 00:09:49 - MM

It is laughable, yet again, to read comments by NYT readers who know little about India yet quickly pass judgement (of particular amusement are ideas on how to solve this very complex problem.)
2 years in aggregate there I can assure you people don't defecate in public because they are Hindu and it is of religious convenience. They do it for ONLY one reason- they are poor and dont have a toilet. To assume that people perform the most personal of tasks outside out of some religious conviction is foolish and narrow-minded. The task of providing toilets and sanitation to 600 million people (twice the size of the US) is daunting but at least seems to be the priority of the new government (the new PM, a "Hindu nationalist", according to the NYT, himself states that he will build more toilets than temples) at least is aware of this problem. Only time will tell if they act on it.

124 2017-04-08 05:49:31 - S. Ram

"Would you want your kid to play with the kid of someone whose job is to clean outhouses, handle dead animals or kill rats in the fields?"

Well, I clean the toilets in my own home. I also handle dead animals in the form of meat. And occasionally over the years I've had to trap a mouse when it's got inside. (I do wash my hands, keep a clean kitchen, and make sure the mouse is disposed of.) Does that mean that no one should play with my children or touch me? Not a point of view I can relate to.

23 2017-03-07 02:38:03 - Stacy

Kalidan, Perhaps you can be part of the solution.

0 2017-03-06 00:44:55 - Smohan

I notice that Bangladesh is in the graph that shows a strong correlation between percentage of stunting in children under 5 and number of people who defecate outdoors per kilometer. Bangladesh, like India, is extremely poor and extremely overpopulated. But yet the Bangladeshi rates of both stunting and al fresco defecation are lower than in less overcrowded poor nations, like Nepal, Nigeria and Ethiopia. Whatever Bangladesh and its government and NGOs are doing, India should replicate. It's the only way this problem can be solved.

8 2017-03-01 08:35:16 - Luboman411

Priya I am guessing you mean Indian-American. The reverse is used to describe the misnomer attributed to the porple living in America at the time Europeans first arrived.

0 2017-01-23 07:23:43 - Geet

There is a very good scientific explanation why many of the benefits associated with a change in environment and improved living standards do not come until 2 generations after the person who originally lived in poor conditions. Your wife's eggs were created while she was in utero during her mother's pregnancy. Thus, half of your son's DNA was created and exposed to the awful sanitation and disease conditions in India. Assuming that your wife spent her pregnancy in the US, then any daughters that you have should have much healthier eggs and thus, you should see a greater improvement in health and physical stature in your grandchildren.

0 2017-01-14 19:41:41 - Lisa No. 17

I am an Indian and have lived all my life in India. It is shocking to see that public health professionals took so long in realizing the connect between open defecation and malnutrition. Secondly Indians do not defecate in open because of religious reasons.

On the contrary it is because of lack of financial resources to construct toilet or the unavailability of water to maintain toilets. Even though the societal challenges tend to grow exponentially with the population, solutions are always there. As a matter of fact organizations such as Gramalaya, based in Tamilnadu have done extensive work in the field of sanitation. They have managed to educate and help the town of Tiruchirapalli in gaining the distinction of India's first open defecation free zone (http://www.gramalaya.in/first_ODF_slum.php.)

Secondly even though non governmental organizations as well as government organizations work hard in tackling these issues, educating people who live in slums as well as gentleman who has written this article is an important task.

6 2017-01-14 09:51:32 - aarti

I doubt that any Indian government department concerned with tourism and income from tourism will find it irrelevant.

0 2017-01-07 08:10:03 - ken h

Typical ignorance of using the same brush to paint a huge country which is varied in so many different dimensions. I was raised in India (and now live in the US) with highest levels of sanitation and hygiene and access to a great education, wholesome diet. This is a privilege in India, but a privilege available to 100s of millions (still a relatively small fraciton of 1.2 billion) in India.

8 2017-01-03 02:06:02 - WirelessEngineer

To Sandy413: Yours is an intelligent, informed response with a good historical perspective --unlike so many from others who are merely mouthing off either their ignorance or their hatred or , in some cases, both. Thank you. The New York Times should have more genuinely educated readers like you.

0 2017-01-02 01:00:46 - VCM

I can attest to this article completely. I'm an American-Indian, who decided to visit India for 9 weeks in an effort to gain some international experience at a rural hospital during my break between 1st and 2nd year of medical school. However, I have been constantly appalled at the lack of cleanliness and accountability for waste disposal here. I am not just talking about defecation. People liter everywhere, and when I pick up the trash to throw it away in a garbage bin, they talk about how gross it is that I am "touching" the piece of plastic they just threw on the ground. The inherent idea that a person of high class does not clean, and it's beneath them to clean up after themselves is literally the reason India is in such a poor state. "It's part of the culture" is a phrase I keep hearing, and a phrase that does nothing but keep this nation paralyzed and unable to achieve its potential.

101 2016-12-22 13:40:41 - PriyaKailash

You know nothing about India. If you are taking prescription medicines manufactured out of India,the so called septic tank, for quite sometime and the quality is that worst,you must not have been in a position to comment now.

3 2016-11-30 07:58:59 - Sivaram Pochiraju

99% off indian sewage is untreated, they just dump it into rivers and ocean, maybe its time for western countries to send a strong message by banning imports of edible items.

29 2016-11-26 22:36:39 - Francis

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