Minster Jairam Ramesh’s remark that temples outnumber toilets is an expression of his anguish that we have never accorded sanitation, hygiene and cleanliness the same importance as religion. Instead of branding him blasphemous, we ought to hang our heads in shame because over 50 per cent of India still defecates in the open. All talk of growth, GDP, etc., is utterly meaningless when juxtaposed with this pathetic state of affairs.

P.R. Lochan Sarathy,

Chennai

I just visited Varanasi for the first time and, as a visitor, I find the Minister’s observations to be spot on. The sight of men relieving themselves on the streets was common. The lack of toilets is a symptom of a wider malaise. I was disappointed to discover that Varanasi, despite the spiritual significance of the city, was a crumbling shambles. The major task of a municipal authority is to provide and maintain infrastructure and properly dispose of municipal waste; toilets are an essential part of this. This is patently not happening in Varanasi as the dirt and filth are obvious to the tourists. To plunder Khuswant Singh’s description of Hukum Chand’s life in Train to Pakistan, there are too many ‘oughts’ and not many ‘is’s in India.

David Williams,

Watson

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