ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Lessons from London

The sanitation debacle of 19th-century London foretells the failure of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission.

In our struggle to make India open defecation free (ODF), it is important to understand our present ignominious sanitation problem. This can be achieved by revisiting history, to learn just how our erstwhile colonisers battled their own sanitation problems. To glean an understanding of the problem confronting 19th-century London, consider Liza Picard, who in Victorian London: The Life of a City 1840–1870, wrote:

A writer can use words to describe a scene. A painter can paint it. A musician, and a sound-effect studio, can reproduce to some extent the sounds of the past. But that most potent of senses, smell, has no vocabulary … Think of the worst smell you have ever met. Now imagine what it was like to have that in your nostrils all day and all night, all over London ... Every stinking breath was dangerous. Miasma, bad air, or as the Italians called it, malaria, brought disease ...

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Updated On : 31st Aug, 2018


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