More than half the people who defecate in the open live in India.
Around the world, people live longer, better lives than in centuries past, in part because of the rapid adoption of latrines and toilets that keep faecal germs away from growing children. India is an exception. Compared to the rest of the world, latrine and toilet adoption in India has been very slow and open defecation remains far too common. This is one reason why infants in India are more likely to die than in neighbouring poorer countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, and are more likely to be stunted than children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Where India Goes demonstrates that open defecation in India is not the result of poverty but a direct consequence of the caste system, untouchability and ritual purity. Coffey and Spears tell an unsanitized story of an unsanitary subject, with characters spanning the worlds of rural development policy: from mothers and babies living in villages to local government implementers, senior government policymakers and international development professionals. They write of increased funding and ever more unused latrines.
This important and timely book calls again for the annihilation of caste and for a fundamental shift in policy perspectives to effect a crucial, much overdue change.
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