Here I am sitting on a flight from New Delhi to Bangalore and just finished reading a piece entitled “India Needs a Latrine Policy” by V. Raghunathan in today’s Economic Times (November 16, 2012). I couldn’t agree more with the arguments made by Mr. Raghunathan and I hope the country does not let another dozen years elapse before addressing this critical and shameful issue head on. We need to provide India’s citizens with proper toilet facilities. “Under the skies” for a nation seeking a position on the UN Security Council, is not a proper option.
Having said that, I also wanted to add to what Mr. Raghunathan said. I just visited the loo on board the flight and the gentleman, and clearly I am using the word totally loosely here, who was in the loo before me, walked out without flushing the toilet. Not only that, while urinating, he had not bothered to lift the lid of the toilet, and given his shitty aim had left the seat totally spattered with his excretions! Now, this from a person who is flying on a plane really shocks me—but then again it doesn’t because flights in India and to and from India inevitably have a dirty toilet.
So, not only do we need more latrines as Mr. Raghunathan says, but we need to train our fellow Indians on how to use them properly, as well! And, given my most recent experience, this would apply to the vast majority of our citizenry, and not just the underprivileged, who will with some luck have the opportunity to use a toilet for the first time in the foreseeable future.
Sitting in my seat on board 9W807 and contemplating the topic, I had this thought about what airlines could do to help the citizens of our country learn how to use a toilet properly. Right after going through the safety routine, when they announce that there is no smoking in the lavatories, and they use the word “lavatories” and not “latrines” as favored by Mr. Raghunathan, the in-flight announcement could go on to say something to the effect “as a courtesy to your fellow passengers, gentlemen are advised to lift the seat before urinating, and all passengers are requested to properly flush the toilet after use.” Similar announcements could be made in luxury buses with toilets as well. And, when and if the greatest mover of India’s citizens, the venerable Indian Railways, moves to chemical toilets, they too could start making similar announcements. The collective effort may end up changing our horrendous bathroom habits!