23 October 2012, 20:43

No bathroom – no bride

No bathroom – no bride

India's government has launched a campaign to remove one of the dirtiest (literally speaking) spots on the country's reputation. What is meant is the unsatisfactory condition or sometimes total absence of the sewage system, especially in the rural areas.

The Minister of Rural Development and Water and Sanitation Jairam Ramesh when announcing the campaign for the cleanliness of India (Nirmal Bharat Yatra) called upon the parents of Indian young women to prevent them from getting married unless they make sure that the groom's house has sewage.

"You consult with an astrologer to find out the position of the Rahu and Ketu planets to make sure that the stars are favorable for the future marriage. You also need to ask the question whether there is a bathroom in the groom's house before you decide to get married», - said the minister. He also cited the slogan already widely used in the Haryana state «No bathroom – no bride» (Shauchalay nahin to dulhan nahin), thus taking the campaign to the national level.

The first association that comes to mind is a comedy called Lysitrata by an ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, Boris Volkhonsky, an expert at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, comments the news.

The main characters of the play, the Greek women, having gotten tired of endless wars, deprive their husbands of the main pleasure of their lives - the sex. «Either war, or sex» they said, and reached their goal in the end. In the new times sex strikes have also demonstrated their effectiveness. In 2003 a mass action by the women in Liberia helped to stop the civil war. In 2006 the «crossed legs» campaign helped to stop gang shootings in Columbia. In 2009 the women of Kenya successfully protested the endless legal suits between the president and prime minister of the country. Sometimes, very local problems, that are similar to those currently faced by India, got resolved by such methods. In one of the Turkish villages women forced the construction of a water supply system by such method. Of course, the absence of sewage is not a war. But for India that problem is very acute.

According to the latest census, 87% of Indian families own their homes. 67% families have electricity in their homes, 63% have a telephone. And only 47% of all households have a bathroom. A lot is written about that issue both in the Indian and world press. And it seems that the minister's statement has to give an impetus to the efforts to correct the situation. But in relation to the No bathroom – no bride campaign a question arises: is it really aimed at correcting the situation? Here is Boris Volkhonsky’s opinion:

There is no doubt, the development of the ecological consciousness in India is a complex and important task. Many problems arising from the state of the environment stems from the fact that a part of the Indian society it is quite normal to relieve oneself right in the street. Last summer the same minister Jairam Ramesh called India «the largest open-air toilet in the world». But the thing is not only the ecological consciousness of each Indian. A sewage in the house requires not only an allocation of a separate space for the bathroom, but also huge infrastructure construction work to bring the sewage to the building, to build sumps, etc. If that were not done, all the dirt would still spill on the ground and into the water basins of each specific village. And the work to set up such an infrastructure is not a task for specific families, but for the local and federal authorities. The meaning of the new campaign is to shift the burden of solving the problem to individual Indian or Indian family.

Perhaps, instead of calling upon the young women to declare a sexual boycott of their future husbands, the officials ought to pay more attention to practical work to set up sewage networks. It would not be so stellar in terms of propaganda, but would bring a lot better results.

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