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Dealing with shit.

October 22, 2011

This post is about literally dealing with shit. It’s not about me helping you figure out how to deal with your “shit” – trust me, I’ve got enough of my own. (The best strategy for me, btw, is to just keep hustling and actually deal with it.)

I just finished watching this documentary on world sanitation for my Social Entrepreneurship class. [sorry, tried to embed it below but didn’t work]


I’m going to write some notable quotes out of the documentary here, for my own memory and for you to get an overview of it –


“This is river Yamuna, essentially just a giant toilet of the city. It’s bubbling – bubbling with methane gas.” (And they are aiming for hosting the Olympics. Yeah, right.)

“The country might flaunt its Metro and its high-rise, but if it’s not able to take care of its river sources, then it’s a sign that there’s something wrong with its growth trajectory.”

“I would throw up into the river if I weren’t afraid of the water splashing back into my mouth. Don’t know how much more I can take.” (He vomits minutes later.)


This is a small sewer that people defecate into…What is this?…This is the water point…The water is coming out of the sewer?…Yes.

In India, 1000 children die everyday of diarrhea, as a direct consequence of water-borne diseases.”

Someone else – “So many children die because of the stench. This is the air that goes into our lungs all-day long, all-night long. This is where we get out oxygen.”

“More people in India own cellphones than toilets.”

The Founder of Sulabh toilets said, “Human exreta is a dull, drab subject. So you have to make it interesting – then people will listen.”


About a toilet-making company in Singapore, the host, Adam says –

“This company is looking to expand its market – by manufacturing low-cost toilets that people in developing countries can afford.”
Referring to the need for a for-profit model (as compared to a non-profit/donor model), the host says,
“In the world’s toilet crisis, Jack sees not only problems, but also opportunity…A humanitarian at heart, Jack is also a realist. He understands that he will succeed in bringing toilets to the billions without them only if someone’s making a profit. So it’s Jack’s mission to incentivize people – both those who need toilets, and those who supply them.”

“Is this the right time to go into these communities about (the subject of) toilets?”
Answer : “I think it’s long overdue. The right time would have been 100 years ago.”

“Sanitation entrepreneurs like…are encouraged by the government of Indonesia, that recognizes that sanitation impacts not only health, but also the country’s economy, productivity and reputation…A World Bank study estimated that poor sanitation costs Indonesia $6.3bn every year – 2.3% of the country’s GDP.”

About defecation free villages – “Here, shit is not only becoming something that’s okay to talk about – it’s becoming something worth celebrating.”

“One thing became clear – something as ordinary as the toilet, is actually anything but. Public health officials have called the toilet the most important breakthrough of the last 150 years – responsible for dramatically reducing disease and death.”

A lot of these videos and readings make me think about Swades, a Bollywood movie that was released years ago. It’s about an NRI engineer who works at NASA and comes to India and visits a rural village. There, he sees the plight of the people and helps oversee a village-electification project0. I don’t exactly remember how it works out – perhaps I will re-watch that sometime.

P.S. I’m embedding the trailer of the movie here. It’s really cheesy and abrupt, but you’ll get the idea.

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