We need to understand the social habits of the people and how the society thinks too

Digambar monks seek exemption to defecate in open expert says not a black and white issueRepresentational image/PTI
news Monday, May 02, 2016 - 18:35

The Digambar Jain Social Group Federation, a group representing the Digambar Jains, has asked the Madhya Pradesh government to let their monks defecate in the open in accordance with their religious beliefs. 

The group submitted a memorandum to the state minister of panchayat and rural development Gopal Bhargava seeking exemption for their monks as they follow centuries-old strict lifestyle where they attend nature’s call in the open. The minister has denied receiving any such memorandum.

This request comes at a time when the government is looking to make the country open-defecation free by 2019.

Speaking about the dangers of open defecation, B. Jayashree, a Chennai-based social scientist, said “People only look at the cleanliness side when they hear open-defecation, but what one needs to understand is that it is also a health issue. Germs which are contained in faeces spread diseases and infections like diarrhea, etc.”

When asked about what ramifications such a demand, if met by the government, could have, Jayashree said, “It is difficult to look at any issue as just black and white. Just the construction of toilets is not enough. What we need to understand is the social habits of the people, how the people and the society thinks. The problem should be looked at holistically.”

Giving the example of the successful polio drive in India, Jayashree mentioned how certain sections, including minority communities, were against the polio drive because they believed it was against their customs or religion. But what made the drive successful was working closely with the groups and understanding their fears and inhibitions. 

Jayashree however, goes on to add that one should not look at the issue here as an issue of a particular community or group, but should work towards tackling the mind-set of people. 

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