Communication Breakdown

April 15, 2010

Wow, what fabulous news– according to the United Nations, almost 564 million people in India have cell phones.  Sounds great considering how few people had access to telephones 10 years ago.  But, oops, the same study shows that only 366 million people in India have access to any proper sanitation.  So that means that about 200 million more people have telephones than toilets and that three-quarters of a BILLION people in what is supposedly a rising power in the world do not have access to proper sanitation.  It’s not only a no-brainer that the state governments in India (the state government is responsible for health not the central government) need to ensure adequate sanitation for all its citizens, but it’s also a no-brainer that this is a human rights violation.  I’ll just quote from General Comment 14 of the United Nations Economic and Social Council here:

Accessibility also implies that medical services and underlying determinants of health, such as safe and potable water and adequate sanitation facilities, are within safe physical reach, including in rural areas. Accessibility further includes adequate access to buildings for persons with disabilities.

So, I think Led Zeppelin (video above) says it better than I could.  After all, when 200 million more  people can talk on the phone than have a safe place to go to the bathroom, I’d say that India is having “another communication breakdown”.