In our country, we normally encounter two kinds of people, one that think and the other which feel. The middle class of India has always chosen to be thinkers. We may think of the destitute and desolate but never feel for them. However, our country boasts of several souls who have left a lasting impact with their constant efforts and brought a societal reform.
Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, an Indian sociologist and a guardian angel for the downtrodden, is a live example of how a person with a firm determination and indomitable spirit can change the society. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak is the founder of Sulabh International, an organization that has developed a self-sustaining model for public sanitation, an offbeat pioneer transforming the concept of sanitization in India. Born and brought up in Bihar, Dr. Pathak was motivated by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. A young Bindeshwar in his twenties undertook numerous initiatives to promote an integrated society.
For his noble initiative, he had to live with the untouchables’ community for several months. He observed how the untouchables’ are neglected by the society. Bindeshwar witnessed how a young married woman was forced to clean bucket toilets by her in-laws. The appalling sight left young Pathak regretful and he decided to transform the society for the upliftment of the poor. Pathak was made to drink cow urine and swallow cow dung according to an old age ritual by his grandmother.
Being a dynamic guy with a scientific temper, he was dismayed by such actions. Dr. Pathak made up his mind to liberate the scavenger castes by building toilets that are maintenance free. He worked immensely towards eroding the evil practice of human scavenging. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak developed a two pothole toilet technology that used only one liter of water. He helped the rural population of India to build this low-cost toilet and thus liberated them from the inconvenience to defecate in the open. His organization, Sulabh International has provided cost effective substitutes and alternatives to open defecation which is not only viable but also has prevented from manual scavenging. A rehabilitation program for those who were unemployed due to the elimination of manual scavenging was undertaken by the organization. People were trained on basic skills and were employed by the organization.
Dr. Pathak and his organization have made a significant contribution towards the development of biogas plants in the rural areas. It is helping the rural people with cooking, electricity and heating. Sulabh International has been constantly working for the construction of public toilets in different parts of India. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, along with his organization, provides health care facilities, food and stipend to the needy. His commendable efforts for the upliftment of the deprived and unprivileged are praiseworthy.
Sulabh International also provides loans to the people for building cost effective and economically viable toilets in their homes. The organization even goes to the rural areas and teaches the people about health and sanitization. Sulabh International is globally recognized and has even built community toilets in Kabul. They are also developing technologies that promote composting of the human wastes.
India has millions of people below the poverty line. They don’t even have access to basic civic amenities like clean drinking water and toilets at their homes. Even the women have to defecate in the open. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak and Sulabh International have worked immensely in this area and have taken several notable steps to prevent them for public defecation. Dr. Pathak is an inspiration to all those people who think that a single individual cannot bring societal reforms.