But the Sulabh model works. Today it employs 25,000 people across India and effortlessly pays their salaries, with enough left over for research, education and training. People are willing to pay to use toilets. There are Sulabhs in 26 states of India and 3 neighbouring countries. 240 towns in India have become scavenger free. 60,000 scavengers have been liberated from the tasks they had been condemned for centuries.
Possibly the finest endorsement of its success has come out of an experiment begun recently in Alwar, Rajasthan. There Sulabh runs a training programme for women who were once scavengers. They are paid Rs.1500 per month as they learn to make and market ready-to-eat snacks. There has been effortless acceptance of their product. Now, go tell this story about India to the non-believers out there. A bemused Pathak observes: "Once their shadows were said to pollute. Now their hands make food. Once no one would eat with them. Now people eat what they make".
And softly, he adds: "Gandhiji used to be furious about our treatment of scavengers. "In my next birth I want to born a Bhangi," he raged. I am working to make sure he need not be born again for this." There's a good chance Gandhi is less angry today.
Sulabh International Service Organisation
Mahavir Enclave, Palam Dabri Marg
011-5031518 [Direct to Ms Madhu Singh, Admin]
fax: 91 11 5036122
~A History of Toilets: from the Sulabh site
~The toilet revolution seems well underway in Mumbai with the poor endorsing the pay and use concept. About Rs.700 crore is likely to be invested in new toilets for the poor. The concept seems to be spreading to Vishakapatnam, Varanasi and Tiruppur. Read the exciting story here