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World toilets, Delhi and Gandhi

Posted on | By Thornton Kay
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Delhi, India - Sunday 19th November is World Toilet Day, celebrating the continued growth of wc's around the planet and encouraging more, of which many in India are made or inspired by a company in Delhi, sometime home of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and the great architect Edwin Lutyens.

Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation, reputedly once said that sanitation was more important to India than independence.

Delhi is home to the Museum of Toilets established by Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, one of <i>The Economist's</i> top 50 icons of global diversity who works as advocate for the untouchable Dalit caste, as an improver of sanitation, builder of public toilets and biogas plants through his company Sulabh International. Over 50m toilets have been built to Pathak's designs and there are plans to build another 120m toilets in rural India (needed especially for the safety of women at night) by 2019.

Pathak has developed and implemented across India low-cost and appropriate toilet technology (popularly known as the Sulabh Shauchalaya System) which invention has been declared as a Global Best Practice by United Nations HABITAT and UNCHS (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements).

When Dr. Pathak was a child he touched an untouchable scavenger in his village and was
seen by his grandmother who made him eat cow dung, drink cow urine as a punishment and poured Ganges water over his head to purify him.

Sulabh International Museum of Toilets tells the story of the development of toilets through the ages which has been visited by people from around the world and have seen the displays of revolutionary two pit system toilets and biogas generators.

Pathak founded the organization Sulabh International in 1970. It is now India's largest charity, with 50,000 on its staff. More than 1.3 million bucket toilets have been converted into Sulabh Shauchalayas, liberating nearly more than a million untouchable scavengers from the sub-human occupation of cleaning human excreta and carrying it as a head-load.

Sulabh: Museum of Toilets
Sulabh: Two pit system

Story Type: Feature