New Delhi: Stating that sanitation is a
"complete disaster" in India, Rural Development Minister
Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday urged the Planning Commission to make the
issue "a national obsession" otherwise it would remain as a
"scourge" on the society.
Referring to the new Census results which said that
almost 60 per cent of India`s population is still defecating
in the open, Ramesh said it is a "real blot on us as we can
send satellites into space, but we can`t put toilets on the
"This is that we really need to make it to a
national obsession. Unless you make it a national obsession,
we are not going to weed out our society this scourge...,"
Ramesh said after distributing the Manav Vikas India Human
Development Awards, instituted by the Planning Commission and
Ramesh, who kicked up a controversy recently by stating
that `Women demand mobile phones, they are not demanding
toilets`, said that he was happy that the Census of 2011 has
recognised what he had said.
He said he had "got lot of flaks, from women`s group" for
making his remarks in the UN Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
"Census results are out today. You look at the
census, you find that almost 60 per cent of India`s population
is still are in the open defecation regime," Ramesh, who also
holds the additional charge of the Ministry of Drinking Water
and Sanitation, said.
Kottayam in Kerala, Khargone in Madhya Pradesh, Udupi in
Karnataka and Malda in West Bengal have been recognised for
excellence in the quality of Human Development Reports for
The overall award for excellence went to West Bengal with
two districts among the eight finalists.
The Manav Vikas India Human Development Awards,
instituted by the Planning Commission and UNDP, celebrate
achievements in Human Development Reports and encourage
excellence in data, analysis and ideas, and advocacy for human
The Awards are a reminder of the critical need to
continue to focus on people as the centre of development
processes. The inaugural awards focus on excellence in
District Human Development Reports (DHDRs).
Commending India for one of the largest bodies of work on
human development, Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator said,
"India has had an incredible journey on human development
reporting, with reports being prepared at decentralised levels
of governance. It also shows that a critical mass of human
development champions have been developed in the country that
can help in improving the quality of life."
The awards were presented by Syeda Hameed, Member,
Planning Commission, Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and jury
members including Jairam Ramesh and M S Swaminathan.