Wednesday, April 16, 2014

India's Mr. Hanky apocalypse

NSFW. But your boss will understand, once he or she stops laughing.

Does a bear s*** in the woods?

No, if he's in India, he takes a big, fat dump on the street . . . and on the sidewalk . . . and in the gutter . . . and on the lawn, just like everyone else.

On one hand, this UNICEF video is screamingly hilarious. On the other hand, what can one say about a place where people have to be cajoled into not dropping trou and letting loose  . . . wherever. Oh, well.

Typhoid happens.

Especially in places where folks haven't figured out what even the ancients knew to some extent. (Toilets, even running-water toilets, go waaaaaaaay back.) From the Wall Street Journal story:
Mr. Poo stars in a techno-infused animated music video, “Poo Party.” He is also featured in a smartphone app, released last month, that encourages users to register human feces sightings, which are then overlaid on maps of Indian cities.

It is a calculated risk for the United Nations Children’s Fund, known for its more-earnest appeals. Joking about something so taboo— and, for many, a source of national embarrassment—could backfire.

Though the campaign has been widely praised on social media, some activists have said “Poo Party” doesn’t take its subject seriously enough. Pratima Joshi, executive director of Shelter Associates, a nonprofit that assists India’s urban poor, said it is simplistic and “demeans the poor.”

The video, posted on YouTube, is awfully funny.

In it, a goateed man wakes to find a menacing Mr. Poo waiting for him outside. He shuts his door, only to find Mr. Poo at his window, oversized, winking and jeering.

The accompanying song begins: “First thing in the morning, what do I see? A pile of s— staring at me.” After a dance-and-chase scene, the townspeople band together to build a giant, multicolored toilet and lure the poo inside. The toilet is flushed, to many cheers, and Mr. Poo is gone.

The campaign targets younger, urban, tech-savvy Indians who don’t relieve themselves outside but who don’t speak out against the practice. It exhorts Indians to sign a pledge denouncing what is known technically as “open defecation.”

Some 620 million people across India defecate outside, the largest number world-wide. About 70% of rural Indians don’t use toilets, and 28 million children have no toilet facilities in school, according to Unicef. It is common practice for India’s mothers to dispose of their children’s waste in the open.

Open defecation is a serious public-health problem. It can expose people to diseases such as polio, giardiasis, hepatitis A and infectious diarrhea. In 2012, nearly a quarter of all young children who died of diarrhea world-wide were Indian. Constant exposure to fecal germs can also lead to stunted growth, a condition afflicting some 61 million Indian children.

India has made progress: The percentage of Indians using toilets has increased substantially since 1990, when 75% of the population defecated in the open.

Sue Coates, head of Unicef's water, sanitation and hygiene program in India, attributes the lag to India's population growth, which continues to outpace the building of new toilets. Then there's mismanagement and corruption. The latest national census showed that more than 50 million toilets were "missing"—appearing on state expenditure reports but not found in homes.

In addition, Ms. Coates said, India focused more on building toilets in people's homes than on encouraging people to use them. Access to toilets is crucial, she said, but equally important is undermining cultural preferences for defecating outside, an area in which Bangladesh has been particularly successful.

In rural areas, defecating outside has been the natural choice for centuries, said Vijayaraghavan Chariar, a sanitation expert at Delhi's Indian Institute of Technology. "There's a reason it's known as 'nature's call,' " he said. "Some feel suffocated by toilets, and don't see a connection between open defecation and poor health."
NO, WE MUST NOT demean the poor. It is far better to let them die stinky deaths instead.

And no, we must not be "suffocated" by bathrooms. It is far better to be suffocated by the stench when you walk out the front door.

I know, I know . . . people are dumb all over. People are ignorant all over. Sanitary waste disposal can be problematic all over. I get that. I've even seen that during the course of my Louisiana upbringing, where it wasn't uncommon, in the wilds of Livingston Parish, for one's poo to go straight from the loo into the river.

And, yes, I have used outhouses. More than once. And a "slop jar" (lots more than once) which we emptied, being that "camp" didn't have running water then, into a weed patch across the road where you only went to empty the slop jar. No, it wasn't a great public-health setup, but it wasn't a bunch of human turds lying all around the shack, either.

But at least there were outhouses and toilets (and chamber pots) -- even if you didn't want to play in a certain weed patch or go swimming in the river, and not because of the risk of water moccasins or alligators. Because even in the wilds of Livingston Parish, squatting in the yard and doing what came natural was a big faux pas. Especially if you just left it there.

Like I said, it ain't brain surgery. And God knows, back then you didn't find a lot of brain surgeons in Livingston Parish.

POO. LOO. Learn it, Love it. Live it.

And if that takes SWPL-hilarious videos that run the risk of "demeaning" the poor, so be it.

HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

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