Ram Rahim and the UN gaffe

By Sanjeeb Baruah | Last Updated: Oct 10, 2017, 19:10 PM IST

The United Nations’ warm invite to jailed self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh would have also taken him by surprise, assuming that he doesn't know it yet.

The invitation to World Toilet Day, though it was by mistake, and the timing was such, that it raised quite a few eyebrows. Had it come from an ordinary office, the brouhaha might have been less because it is a common knowledge many such offices here seldom update their mailing list.

A case in point is my next door neighbour who still receives electricity bills in the name of the previous house owner despite her sending a notarized letter and numerous reminders. But, whatever may be the reason, the UN’s impromptu tweet invite did grab the headlines and twitterati had a field day trolling the UN.

Ram Rahim surely must have done something special to earn an invite from the world body. From his ‘bhakts’ in interviews, we do know now that he ran a green campaign.

However, the row over inviting a rape convict should not divert our attention from the more serious subject of open defecation, which the UN wants to highlight. Besides health risk, it is also a major public nuisance. The problem is so widespread and serious that it can suck your breath out, i.e. figuratively speaking!

I can tell you that from my own experience. An empty plot next to our apartment blocks in West Delhi has turned into a massive lavatory because people at a nearby resettlement colony dumps their bowel discharge twice daily.

The strong pungent smell of the poop fills the air and it becomes a virtual no-go zone. The MCD has installed poop booths but nobody uses them. This is one of the moments that make you think no amount of campaign would convince them to stop defecating in the open. It is their habit and not lack of awareness that seemed to be holding them back.

Ram Rahim, now incarcerated in Haryana’s Sunaria jail, surely paid for what he did. He may have been an ardent supporter of this UN campaign, but today he has been rechristened as a notorious sex-maniac who is not fit to live in our world.

World Toilet Day, observed on Nov 19, seeks to achieve the same objective as our Swachh Bharat Campaign, but on a larger platform. Hopefully, both reach their milestones sooner than later and spare those who had to endure this smell of the ‘digestive fluids’ while commuting every day to work.