I’ve heard there are more cellphones than toilets in India. Now, there are more temples than toilets. Next, there will be more people than toilets. In India, there are always more people than anything else, except shit. So are there more people than temples? Does that reduce toilets ad absurdum? It does.
See, there is as much shit as there are people. Each adult excretes 150 – 250 gm of brown matter daily, the actual amount is proportionate to what the person ate. With 1.2 billion people excreting an average of 200 gm every day, Indians collectively produce 240 billion gm, or 0.24 billion kg, or 24 crore kg of shit every day. Your average idol weighs 100 gm, but not all Indians are Hindu. In fact, about 30 per cent follow other gods or are nature-worshippers. That means we have about 950 million Hindus, all of whom presumably worship idols. So the combined weight of the idols – one to a household – is 95000 million grams, or 0.95 crore kg of idols.
The problem is we are comparing oranges to apples. Now, we shit every day, but we dont get idols every day. Let us assume a family buys one idol a year. The per capita weight of an idol, every day, will be 0.28 gm. Therefore, we can assume all Hindu families in India will acquire (or produce) 0.00026 crore kg of idols a day. That is 0.00001 times the amount of shit all of India produces in a day.
Therefore, the ratio shit to temples is 1:10,000. No wonder Jairam Ramesh lost his job as the sanitation minister.
Now we come to cellphones. The number of cellphone connections is rumoured to have touched 930 million, including dead and multiple connections. That is, a person may have more than one phone. The actual number of users is likely to be different. Still, rural toilet coverage (whatever that means, covered with a toilet???) is around 65% and urban is around 95%. That means 40% rural people are not under a toilet, or about 480 million people are still free of this appliance in the country. So 720 million supposedly have loos. It is close, though, because not all those connections work and a rich person has more than one phone. For that matter, the rich have more than one toilet. Here, the ratio is much closer, not an absurd 1:10,000. I would hazard a 1:1 guess.
The problem is, we Indians overwhelm anything by the sheer weight of numbers. Strength is secondary, anything we set out to do is crushed by the number of people bearing down on it. Maybe a larger person excretes more, but all people excrete and even if the majority is malnourished, they still excrete some. The sheer number of excreting Indians outdoes any gains from their malnourishment or under-nourishment. Therefore, no matter how many toilets we make, idols families buy or cellphones the company would have us believe Indians own, excrement will win. Excrement is a daily occurence, but cellphones and idols are occasional buys. You simply cannot compare.