We generally do not participate in contests (this might be our first), but the topic for this –sponsored by Dabur– is something that we encounter on a daily basis living in India: how can we build a stronger, healthier and more immune India. And the 20th of this month being Universal Children’s Day, makes it even more appropriate.
Once you have a baby, you notice things that you never thought of before. And, so now before I buy new clothes, I worry if it will bleed color, or if the furnishings at someone’s house are clean enough to take my baby. Cleanliness is my pet peeve and with reason.
India still has a long way to go when it comes to basic hygiene, and that is all the more important with young children at home. Not only because it will help protect them against illnesses, but since children imitate adults, it will also help save numerous future generations. Water and sanitation are the biggest problems when it comes to ensuring immunity in children.
Clean water is one of the most important tools to ensure healthy children. There are still places in India where there is no running water, and people sometimes need to travel a few kilometers before they can pump water for their household use.
In all the cities that I have visited there is no continuous water supply, rather areas are allotted certain timings when they should store water for use. And even then, lack of maintenance leads to low pressure. Contaminated water causes diarrhea in children, and repeated episodes of such make children more vulnerable to other diseases.
Close to election cycles, we read in the papers about certain state governments handing out laptops or bicycles. Instead they should be investing in something that is longer lasting, such as maintaining current water systems, installing new connections as per the norms so that every household in the country has access to clean drinking water.
Another important and basic issue is sanitation. Anytime someone uses the restroom, they should wash their hands with soap and water. There are still hundreds of millions in India who defecate openly according to the United Nations. When these people do not have access to sanitation facilities, it is near impossible that they would have access to clean water. And water borne diseases are one of the leading causes of death in children under the age of five.
I think companies by law should be required to engage in CSR by putting aside a certain percentage of their revenue depending on earnings. The state governments should chart out slums, towns and villages where people are missing basic and essential elements that should be accessed by all irrespective of socio-economic background. Companies in turn should be asked to contribute to these areas, and show yearly progress.
It is by no means an easy task but then nothing that is of importance comes on a silver platter. It will by all means be an uphill battle, but one, when won will lead to lower mortality rates and a country that is proud of its infrastructure.