A number of films are released and pulled off from cinema halls every week without having any or a small impact on the lives of people. But there was one with a social message, the effects of which are still coming out, after more than three months of its release – Bollywood film ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’. Released in August this year but its impact on people of India, especially in the rural parts, is still being felt.
Recently, Sarvasamaj Panchayat of Bijvada village of Baghpat district in Uttar Pradesh has passed an order that no resident of the village is allowed to marry their children into a home that has no toilet. Moreover, the panchayat has declared that whoever goes against the order will have to pay a penalty that will be utilized for constructing toilets in houses still deprived of them.
The decision taken by the village panchayat was attended by heads of ten other nearby villages who pledged to simulate the order in their villages as well.
The village pradhan, while speaking to the Times of India said:
“The main aim of the panchayat was to ensure that no woman of our village has to go for open defecation. So, whether a woman comes from other villages as a daughter-in-law or a daughter goes to any other village after marriage, it applies to all. We have passed a strict order that whosoever flouts this rule, not only will the family be penalized but they will also be excommunicated for a specific period.”
Another clause according to which any village where marital alliance of anyone from his village gets proposed must be ODF (Open Defecation Free) was later added to the decision.
The decision might appear to be a small or insignificant one to people in cities. It is, however, a prudent step with long term advantages for India. Since people in rural locations are quite concerned about getting their children married, and that too well in time, those who do not have a toilet in their home yet will have to get one constructed else they will not be able to have their children married off. And if the rule is followed honestly, this village and ten others that have promised to replicate it will eventually have toilets in their homes. If the multiplier effect continues, all homes will soon have toilets in them, making India an ODF country!