The blog is delighted to be able to congratulate Indian Oil (IOC) on becoming the first company to commit to building toilets in India. In response to Premier Modi’s appeal, the chairman of India’s bggest refiner, B. Ashok, last week personally began to build toilets at a school near its refinery in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh state.
IOC have already committed to builidng 1000 toilets for girls. Even better is that Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) along with GAIL, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum are also planning to participate. ONGC said in a statement:
“The project has been launched in 2 schools in Ganjam and 8 schools in Gajapati districts of Odisha and in 10 schools near ONGC work centres in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Assam and Tripura. The mission is to achieve total sanitation in India over a period of next five years”
The key driver behind this activity is Modi’s policy of targeting sanitation for all within 10 years. This is an enormous task, as around 600 million Indians curently have no access to toilets. As a result, they have to defecate in the fields, as the picture above shows. This not only transmits disease, but also puts women at risk of rape by forcing them to defecate at night-time.
This is why the blog is so supportive of the premier’s initiative. Providing sanitation is likely to prove the best possible way of boosting India’s long-term growth potential. And it also creates a virtuous circle for manufacturers, as it creates a major new market for polymers – worth at least $10bn.
It hopes that more companies will now follow IOC’s lead. India has some of the best demographics in the world, and its economy could therefore have excellent growth rates in the next few decades. But it will not achieve its potential unless its people are fit and healthy.