New Delhi: India remains the "dirtiest and
filthiest" country in the world, Rural Development Minister
Jairam Ramesh said on Monday, lamenting that people in many areas
had access to mobile phones, but not toilets.
Ramesh, who is also a minister for Drinking Water and
Sanitation, highlighted lack of awareness about sanitation and
expressed concern on the issue of rampant open defecation
in the country, particularly in rural areas.
"In one area in which India can claim success in the
social sector is education. We can`t say same thing in health,
we can`t say same thing in nutrition, we certainly can`t say
the same thing in sanitation because we do remain the dirtiest
and filthiest country," he said addressing a function here.
During an interaction with the audience, Ramesh said,
"I am concerned. The biggest challenge I am facing, as a rural
development minister, is to educate people about sanitation.
60 per cent of all open defecation in the world are in India."
"Today, if you go to many parts of India, you have women
with a mobile phone, going out to answer the call of nature. I
mean it is paradoxical...you have a mobile phone and you don`t
have a toilet. When you have a toilet, you don`t use the
toilet... use it as a godown," he said.
"You have to educate the values of cleanliness," Ramesh
He, however, said today women accounted for almost 50
per cent of enrolment in higher education.
"20 years ago, this enrolment was less than 25 per cent.
In some states, women enrolment in higher education is higher
than men. Girls enrolment in schools also have increased very
very significantly," he said.