As India dreams of becoming a global power and marches towards the path of development, the levels of hygiene in the country is a matter of shame and a blot on India’s image globally. Good hygiene is a sign of a developed civilization, of a cultured people and of high levels of education.
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Poor Hygiene and India
The challenge that India faces in the area of hygiene and sanitation are more daunting than the economy-related ones. While the economy can be fixed by taking tangible measures, hygiene and sanitation are an integral part of how one chooses to live their lives, and cannot be forced upon the people. To add to this, low levels of education, cultural resistance, and poverty all contribute in making India one of the poorest performers on sanitation and health levels. India occupies the 93rd position in the global index on water and sanitation, as revealed by the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Performance Index 2015. India’s poor performance on hygiene, air pollution and other parameters also, gives it a rank of 143 among 188 countries in health study. This clearly reflects India’s indifference to hygiene.
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What constitutes Hygiene?
Hygiene is a wide term that includes several components. Access to toilets, clean drinking water, private bathing facilities, availability of washing facilities, soaps for washing hands, facilities for changing and disposing sanitary materials, facilities to dump garbage, facilities for the physically challenged and so on. Given the diverse and disparate condition of the people of India, the acute divide between rich and poor, the country is not able to provide these facilities for each citizen of the country.
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Hygiene- A Mirage
The World Bank links one in ten deaths in India to poor sanitation. This alarming statistic is enough to puncture India’s growth story and compel it to reflect on the ground reality. Around 450 million Indians relieve themselves in the open, around 157 million urban dwellers lack decent toilet facilities and much of the solid waste is discharged into river bodies untreated. The contaminated groundwater causes severe diarrheal infections, especially in children and around 44 million children have stunted growth because of this. Clearly, hygiene in India is a mirage. No wonder that one of the first steps which PM Modi took was to launch the Swachh Bharat Campaign to create awareness about cleanliness and hygiene.
As fundamental as it is, India lacks awareness about the importance of maintaining proper hygiene levels. Till the time hygiene becomes a priority for the people of this country, India’s growth story will itself remain incomplete and unfulfilled.
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