Toilets are more important than phones

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 December, 2010, 12:00am

I think the article 'Phones for all but few toilets' (South China Morning Post, November 1) is very interesting. The headline is ironic.

To most people, a toilet is a necessity, but it is not so in India. In the Mumbai slum of Rafiq Nagar, there's not a single toilet for its 10,000 people. But nearly every family in the slum has a cell phone. Some have three.

There were more than 670 million cell phone connections in India, but only 366 million Indians have access to a private toilet or latrine.

Although everyone can buy a phone in India, it is not really good news. The gap between the rich and the poor is very wide. Businessman Mukesh Ambani built the most expensive home on earth, but farmers still live in shacks of mud and cow dung.

I think the Indian government should improve the living conditions of the working class. It should build more toilets and improve hygiene. If the government simply let the rich have what they want, India will never be strong because most of its citizens are poor.

Cynthia Wong Jing-may, Pooi To Middle School

From the Editor

Hygiene and sewerage are two things we take for granted in Hong Kong. Even though our city grew rapidly from a small fishing village, it had a government with enough foresight and planning to make sure we had all the services we need. Sadly, places like Mumbai did not.

However, it is the government's responsibility to ensure sewerage is provided for its residents. This is, after all, why we pay taxes. But mobile phones are a private concern. They are also a lot cheaper than putting in a toilet and the necessary sanitation systems.

Lack of sanitation is one of the biggest problems facing undeveloped countries today. Although one would hardly think of India as 'undeveloped' places like Mumbai clearly lack the basic necessities.

Susan, Editor