Expects Shyam Benegal to come up with a toilet version of Manthan

“If Shyam Benegal [film director] can come up with a toilet version of Manthan [movie that focused on milk cooperatives] we can break a certain social barrier” towards solving a problematic issue like sanitation, felt Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of Rural Development.

Launching the Asia-Pacific Millennium Development Goals report of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific, Mr. Ramesh recalled how Manthan that featured Smita Patil had changed women's attitude towards collection of milk in rural areas and hoped the famed director would hit on a similar idea to instil the need for sanitation.

End open defecation

He intended to propose to Benegal to direct another movie that would focus on cleanliness and hygiene to end open defecation in the country.

Mr. Ramesh, who holds the portfolio of Drinking Water and Sanitation, regretted that women were demanding mobile phones and not toilets.

The country which had 700 million mobile phones accounted for 60 per cent of those practising open defecation across the world.

‘Cultural norms'

“We construct toilets but people don't use them,” he said. While responding to a query on the reluctance of people in using toilets, Mr. Ramesh attributed it to “certain cultural norms associated with open defecation.”

He took a dig at the total sanitation campaign of his Ministry dubbing it as “token.” Under the campaign each toilet was expected to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 3,000 while the minimum needed by any standard was Rs. 8,000.

Mr. Ramesh promised an increased outlay for drinking water and sanitation in the next financial year and hoped that the campaign would pick up once banks were brought into the scheme of things to part finance the projects.

His remarks, however, saw the hosts referring to the incident in Betul in Madhya Pradesh where a newly married tribal woman refused to stay at her husband's place till he got a decent toilet constructed in his home. Her insistence paid off.

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