Monday, November 06, 2006

Village Earth

Taking a hot-water shower to relieve my arthritic aches and stiffnesses, I was struck by how luxurious it is to have running hot water.

The late grassroots technologist Dr CV Seshadri had once told a television interviewer in the context of a discussion on water availability that a bath a day was every citizen's fundamental human right – which many were denied.

But besides the water, there is also the question of bathing space. So many people in Calcutta, and especially women, have to bathe in the streets, exposed to passers-by. They bathe with their clothes on.

Hundreds of thousands of the poor and low-income in Calcutta live in something like a 100 sq ft space, which could be home to three generations of family members. Some people have a tiny space at home where they can bathe – after others have vacated the room for privacy.

A poor woman in Calcutta – may never have the opportunity to be alone with her body. If she had a lump on her breast – she may never know about this until it is too late.

But you wouldn’t think about such things when you see the designer bathrooms which are the rage in our cities, over which the new rich of globalising India spend a fortune.

This reminds me of the analysis of the late Dartmouth professor, Donella Meadows' "State of the Village Report".

There’s also the update, If the World were a village of 1,000 in 2000, by Lloyd C. Russow of Philadelphia University.

These put into perspective the actual quality of human life on planet earth.

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