Madhya Pradesh's Chauthiya village came in the headlines recently for a unique reason. In a bid to end the problem of open defecation, village sarpanch Khusli Bai has come up with an out-of-the-box solution.
Whenever a resident of the village leaves to respond to the nature's call in the open, his or her details and even their activity and movement are reported live on a public address system.
In the beginning, they started clicking photographs of the 'offenders' on mobile phones and made them public and also used children as a medium to convince the elders about the bad habit. But when nothing worked, the route of embarrasment was chosen.
Running commentary to expose those defecating in the open to stop the habit
The HT report said a system of broadcast was set up with a 12-member committee which also includes women to spot people defecating in the open.
Equipped with torchlights and mobile phones, these people inform the panchayat 'control room' as soon as they discover an offender and it then announces the names. The offenders are even handed a fine of Rs 100 and their water containers are seized, the HT report said.
The running commentary and the serious embarrassment that comes with it has helped the village administration achieve some success.
According to the 2011 census, 86.9% people in Madhya Pradesh defecate in the open, a figure which is indeed worrying in terms of civic awareness.
Comedy in form could be a tragedy in result
But Chauthiya's way of doing things might provoke a sense of comedy in our minds first but doesn't it also brings to focus the question of human rights violation? Can bringing an individual's extreme moments of privacy in public and making fun of it be supported?
Okay, those who support it will say the straight way didn't work so this had to be done. But how much time was devoted to make people understand about such a tragedy in the guise of comedy?
If exposing open defecators is okay, why not forced sterilisation?
If the 'normal' method of raising awareness does not work, who approves the 'abnormal' method of embarrassing people to teach them a lesson? If effectiveness is considered the ultimate criterion to judge things, then why do we speak against forced sterilisation as it was during the era of Emergency in the mid 1970s?
There is very little possibility of the student who never studies to start doing so if he is constantly punished or embarrassed before his or her classmates.
Corporal punishment is something which the modern-day practitioners of education has rejected outright. Then why will we support what's happening in Chauthiya?
Embarrassing one to teach him a lesson is not right
In India, we have a tendency to belittle ordinary human beings in the name of correcting their behavioural pattern. May be we do so because the excessive population and the big gap between economic and social being have reduced our respect for each other. But humiliating somebody to instill civic sense in him could prove to be counter-productive in the long run.
Can we sacrifice harmony for cleanliness? Let's think over it.