Defecating in the open is unhealthy. Mainly it creates health hazard for all. A man defecating in the open, spreads infection in many ways. The excreta washed by water, go to underground which in turn is used for drinking and cultivation. By drinking this contaminated water infection spreads, we suffer from cholera, diarrhoea etc. children suffer more. This destroys the very foundation for health for adulthood. It is because growth of body and mind take place in the initial years of life, but a great majority of our children, suffer from malnutrition these years—one main reason is that they suffer from communicable diseases like cholera, typhoid. This is not wholly, at least partially could be avoided if we could stop spread of the contamination. The contaminated water is used for cultivation of vegetable, fruits; and in the process all the produce gets contaminated and damage our health.
This problem is not peculiar to Indian villages, it is a very common phenomenon in all developing/poor counties of Asia, Africa, but people with such practice is highest in number in India. Just not villages, in Indian cities including Mumbai it is a common sight. While travelling in a train, on both side of the track you can see people squatting and defecating. Fifty percent of Indians defecate in the open air. With the initiation of swatch Bharat abhijan, PM Modi started a movement towards cleanliness, many joined it. Still, there is no reason to believe that the problem is over– even if many joined, it will be many many years before the complete result is harvested.
Those have this bad habit, either do not have money to construct toilet or think that constructing a toilet is an avoidable expenditure—in such cases Govt may try to subsidise where people do not have money for it. Subsidizing is not a very good idea as resources are scarce, best would be if citizens in each area come together to raise resources to construct toilet for those who don’t have.
I personally think some stringent action should be taken where people have toilet at home, in spite of that they defecate outside as a force of habit. Many of those are educated people–at least school/ college certificate holders, they go to open air for reliving them, as some say, just for enjoying the cool bridge in the morning and moon in the open wide sky in the night while sitting to have bowel movement. Govt should take strong measure to punish them. Authority should publicly name and shame them. There also have to be social movement, spreading the awareness through a huge publicity through street drama, wall magazine, theatre etc etc. One must be that it is huge huge problem, and we must accept that this is here to stay for a long long time. Some people use this open air latrine because they enjoy and this makes total eradication a herculean task. I have no doubt that many people owning flats in posh are of metro cities, when they go to their villages in vacation, you may catch them with thumps up/ pepsi bottle, in early morning, by the side of paddy fields.
Like all problems, here also lack of real education is the main culprit. In this point I remember an important quote from Obama which runs like this—those who say education is costly, ask them to calculate what ignorance cost them. Our ignorance is costing us here also. On translating this quote, we will find that a society is developed, consequently rich, because of its people have the right-quality education. And those are undeveloped or under developed and poor, suffer because they have poor quality education. Education is the panacea, a cure-all.