ON OCTOBER 2, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared India open defecation-free (ODF). A long-pursued target of successive governments, the milestone was celebrated with much fanfare on Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary. With India's achievement, the world made great strides in meeting the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-6) that ensures availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. Before 2014, the country was responsible for 60 percent of the world's open defecation burden with over 550 million people not having access to toilets, as per the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti.
However, a report titled Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000-2020 by the World Health Organization (who) and the United Nations Children's International Emergency Fund (UNICEF) released on July 1, 2021, raises doubts about India's claim. The Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report assesses the progress the world has made on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene between 2000 and 2020 to measure the progress made towards achieving SDG-6. It acknowledges that India is responsible for the largest drop in open defecation since 2015, in terms of absolute numbers. Open defecation had dropped by 16 per cent points over the 10 years since 2000. The pace of reduction picked up after 2016, with open defecation dropping by 14 per cent points in only five years, notes the report.
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‘America's original social distancer'
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND LOCKDOWNS MADE DAVID GESSNER, PROFESSOR OF CREATIVE WRITING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA WILMINGTON, REVISIT HENRY DAVID THOREAU—THE 19 TH CENTURY AMERICAN NATURALIST, ESSAYIST, POET AND PHILOSOPHER WHO LIVED IN ISOLATION FOR TWO YEARS STARTING 1845. THOREAU SPENT HIS TIME GROWING HIS OWN FOOD, CONTEMPLATING AND WRITING. HIS STAY IN THE WOODS BY THE WALDEN POND IN CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS, RESULTED IN HIS MOST-KNOWN WORK, WALDEN—A BOOK THAT DESCRIBES THE ACT OF LIVING DAY TO DAY AND IS CONSIDERED A CLASSIC ON NATURE WRITING AND INDIVIDUALISM. GESSNER COMPARES THOREAU’S SELF-IMPOSED ISOLATION TO HIS OWN FORCED SECLUSION DURING THE PANDEMIC IN HIS BOOK QUIET DESPERATION, SAVAGE DELIGHT TO CONCLUDE “JUST HOW INTENSELY RELEVANT THOREAU IS TO OUR TIMES”. EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK:
In absence of robust framework and infrastructure, segregation of domestic hazardous waste remains a distant dream for most Indian cities
States must contend with several production hurdles before they can roll out fortified rice as part of the Union government's plan to fight malnutrition
‘Reality is not as fixed as people like to think'
Humans pride themselves on the fact that they cannot just see and perceive what is around them but also analyse their observations and form definite conclusions. However, this ability to understand reality is not foolproof, say researchers from the University College of London, UK, in a recent preprint paper published in the online repository PsyArXiv. Through a series of experiments, the researchers have determined that people are often akin to mistaking their imagination for real-life perception. DAKSHIANI PALICHA speaks to lead author of the study NADINE DIJKSTRA about the potential implications of their findings. Excerpts:
The fading mirage of a TRIPS waiver
A year later, the proposal to lift WTO’s intellectual property blocks to making COVID vaccines has not inched forward
Many hues of haldi
Turmeric plays a prominent role not just in our kitchens, but in many auspicious rites and rituals as well
The pandemic years have witnessed a boom in the production and export of the humble underground stem called turmeric, along with a renewal of interest among the scientific community in the spice’s therapeutic qualities, especially against COVID-19. VIBHA VARSHNEY reports why inclusion of the household herb in our daily diet is a healthy idea
With the world having lost 14 per cent of its coral reefs in just one decade, a marine devastation seems imminent. But there may be some hope yet
The abnormally high rainfall in the final month of the rainy season has added to India's monsoon agony
BEYOND 100 DAYS
The national rural employment guarantee programme financially empowers village panchayats, thus making them an effective self-governing system
THE GAME CHANGER
INSIDE DHD’S RECORD-SETTING DURAMAX
Building Community Through Education
KIRAN BIR SETHI is changing the experience of childhood in Indian cities through her education curriculum and initiatives to build healthy relationships between students and their communities. Here she is interviewed by KASHISH KALWANI.
Granny Chic Galore!
A homeowner’s holiday décor is an homage to Christmas at her grandma’s house.
INDIANA NOTIFYING 750K AFTER COVID-19 TRACING DATA ACCESSED
Indiana health officials said they are notifying nearly 750,000 state residents that a cybersecurity company “improperly accessed” their personal data from the state’s online COVID-19 contact tracing survey — a description the company disputed as a “falsehood.”
What is My Stereo's Gender?
Readers will recall, distressingly, that I have tried their patience on just about every topic that marginally relates to audio. LP grooves, CD bumps, flat response, boomy bass, warm recordings, cold binary bits—I have waxed philosophically on all of them. Which bring us to today’s audio topic: gender.
One of my closest friends in my hometown had a love marriage, which many considered to be a rebellious act against our small society.
Contentment - THE ART OF REMOVING AND CREATING HABITS
DAAJI continues his series on refining habits, in the light of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga and current scientific and yogic principles and practices. Last month, he explored the first Niyama of purity, shaucha. This month he shares his insights on that pivotal human quality – contentment, which is known in Yoga as santosh.
Carlyle's Goyal Brings India Lessons to Infrastructure, Energy Investing
POOJA GOYAL, 41, brings a unique personal insight to Carlyle Group Inc., where she leads the renewable and sustainable energy team and co-heads the infrastructure group.
Building a Work of Art
To celebrate the release of the 2022 Indian Chief the legend-ary motorcycle company got together two of the world’s most sought after builders, Paul Cox and Keino Sasaki, to customize a bike for celebrated tattoo artist Nikko Hurtado.
Can Bollywood Survive Modi?
Its films have always celebrated a pluralistic India, making the industry—and its Muslim elite—a target of Hindu nationalists.