More mobile phones than toilets in Indian households


ALMOST HALF of India’s 1.2 billion people do not have toilets at home but more people own a mobile phone.

According to Census 2011 data, only 46.9 per cent of 246.6 million households across the country had toilets while 49.8 per cent defecated and urinated in the open.

The remaining 3.2 per cent used scarce public toilets, Census data on household amenities and assets showed.

Conversely, more than half the country’s population, or 53.2 per cent, had mobile telephones with India being one of the world’s fastest-growing markets in this field, increasing by about 30 million every month.

“Defecating in the open continues to be a big concern for the country, as almost half the population resort to it,” registrar general and census commissioner C Chandramouli said. Cultural and traditional reasons and a lack of education were the prime reasons for this unhygienic practice, he added.

Hordes of people relieving themselves in the open each morning – particularly along railway tracks as they are invariably located on higher ground – is a common sight across India.

According to experts at the World Toilet Summit in Delhi some years ago, about 2.6 billion people – more than 40 per cent of the world’s population – do not have access to proper toilets; half of them living in India and China.

Analysts said the census data indicated India’s complex contradictions where millions had access to cutting-edge technology, but an even larger number lacked access to the most basic facilities.