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India and sanitation

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As a pilgrim from the west, indeed there needs to be a change of mentality through education. Many people don't realise the effects of water borne disease. Each time I've travelled to India I've gotten sick. You can tell quite a bit by just looking in a restaurant. If the cooks and waiters are using latex gloves, then I'm pretty likely to be safe. Otherwise, I have to avoid said restaurant. Washing with unclean water doesn't make you clean. Of course, due to lack of money for infrastructure, the problem remains immense. But I think a start would be basic education about water.
It is true that most of the villagers practice open defecation in India. But I do not believe in the statistics given by WHO. Where did they get these figures? Actually personal cleanliness of Indians is far better than people living in many other Countries. In some Countries daily bath is still a luxury. Education is catching up fast in every part of the present India. The new generation of Indians follow better hygienic practices than in the past. I have traveled to many places around our Country. I found modern toilet facilities available even in Bhojbhasa (just 4 kms from Ghomukh) in the far corner of the Himalayas.

There are millions of people in India who take food in road side restaurants and continue to live without major health problems. Let us not generalise health problems. In fact an article in "The Times of India" dated Mar,25,2012 states "Evidence is growing that dirt and germs protect against disease -- and that our indoor-based, ultra-clean lifestyles are bad for our health."(Over Cleanliness could wreck immune system). Though I do not go with the Article fully, I do agree, the villagers show better resistance to common diseases than people living in fully insulated atmosphere.

Brahmanyam: What you say about immune system makes a lot of sense. My wife used to get sick going to my family farm here in Canada, but I never did. She hadn't built up immunities to whatever is in the well, whereas I had built them up. So the same is true of India. Locals get used to the water, whereas foreigners like me have no such luxury. Immunity is very individualized. I do know a couple of western friends who can go to India (or Mexico) and never get sick, some special coating of iron in their guts or something, but these people are in the tiny minority. Often NRIs who return after 30 odd years have also lost their childhood immunities.

So there is most likely some truth to the 'cleaner water will make us lose our immunities' statement. But medically, I'm not sure if said immunities are passed on to children at birth via bloodstream, or need to be built up over time from the gut. If the latter is the case then I see how infant mortality rates are high.

There is also the 'it's okay for me, then it's okay for you' syndrome going on here, which is untrue. I often encountered that. Even a very steady.."Trust me. I WILL get sick." didn't work. At one restaurant using banana leaves, tap water was used to wash the leaf, and our server served the dosa with his hands. Noticing that, I decided not to eat, but the staff put so much pressure on me, out of politeness I ate anyway. TRUST me, I paid for it for the next 4 days, mostly from a bed in a hotel.
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