We’re doing this blog post live in one take. I’m going to give you five possible solutions for fixing this problem, and how I think each will work. Please remember while reading this that I am a nobody who doesn’t actually know what he is talking about. No single solution is going to be able to tackle this problem on its own, and it will likely require a combination of all of them.
Solution 1: Education.
My rating: 7/10 for children, 2/10 for adults.
This blog has talked about the efforts the Indian government and nonprofits are working to educate the masses on the benefits of hygiene and going to the bathroom in, well, a bathroom. I do not think that these efforts will be immensely successful. By getting to children young and introducing them to the wonderful world of indoor plumbing, they can have a decent success rate because children are influenceable and can be habituated into healthy behavior. For adults who have been pooping outside for decades, I don’t think education is going to convince them to change the way they go. It’d be like trying to get my friend’s father to start pronouncing the word “milk” correctly. It’s worked for him for so long the way he does it, why change?
Solution 2: Accessibility
My rating: 6/10
We know that many don’t have a toilet to poop in, but we also know that many who do are still choosing not to use them. If everybody has a toilet, more people are going to use them as a receptacle for their dumps, that’s just common sense. This meets the same barrier that we find with the education problem. If Pajeet has been pooing on the back yard for the last 40 years, giving him a loo isn’t going to make him want to poo in it, at least at first. My father used to say he never wanted a smartphone, but after a few years he never gets off of his iPhone. Can the same logic be applied to toilets? We’ll see. But simply giving people toilets without any sort of social pressure to use them is obviously going to make indoor defecation fall short of its potential.
Solution 3: Environmental Awareness
My rating: 0/10
If you live in a house made out of trash with a dirt floor, chances are that you won’t give a damn about the fecal concentration in the Indian Ocean. It’s hard to get Americans with every capacity to reduce their environmental impact to care about these things, forget about people with much bigger and more immediate fish to fry. Especially when they have to watch everyone around them just keep shitting outside anyway.
Solution 4: Social pressure
My rating: 10/10
I personally act in many ways to deliberately make myself a social outcast, but most people are not like me. If there was a massive campaign to make Raj, Pajeet and Manjula know that it was disgusting and uncool to poop outdoors (granted they had access to indoor plumbing), it would probably work. If somehow the indoor poopers could start shaming the outdoor poopers and turn outdoor defecation into a social taboo, I bet it would have some positive outcome. I’m not going to pretend like I know anything about sociology or the Indian cultural-social dynamic, but it’s an idea. Posters showing that dogs, pigs, and chickens poop outside could be effective. People do not want to be like pigs. Maybe posters could be used showing cows pooing in the loo, since Indians love cows. I don’t know. What I do know is that if everyone in my life replaced their shirts with nipple tassles and began ridiculing me for wearing a shirt, I’d probably get myself a pair of nipple tassels faster than you can imagine, even being a counterculturalist as I am. It would at least be much more effective than telling me that nipple tassels are good for the environment if I got called a gross disgusting animal every time I wore a shirt.