Seeds of a toilet revolution in rural India, a consequence of land rights

During a recent visit with my friends at ARCH Vahini, through remote parts of rural Gujarat in April 2015, where ARCH had been working for many years, I witnessed the seeds of a revolution in the making! For the record, Census 2011, reported that about 67% of rural households, and 53% of urban ones, did not have any toilet. In one block of Narmada district, about 3000 families spread over 20 villages are building their own toilets with great care. In another area not too far away, in one village 60 toilets have been built by government contractors, most of which were not complete, are of poor quality, and about half are not being used by the families for whose benefit these were built. This in a way illustrate the kind of change that could happen in some of these remote villages, if the communities had actively participated in their own developmental  process. Our friends at ARCH, a Gujarat based organisation, had been working in these forest communities to help them claim their rights over land and local forest resources (minor forest produce), under the Forest Rights Act 2006. In the process the local people had become aware and empowered in the process, consequently their capacities and confidence had improved. This is enabling the communities to undertake initiatives such as the effort to build toilets in their homes. Hardly anyone could have predicted such possibilities from FRA! Below are the links from dropbox, of the recent pictures of toilets being built in rural India, which I noticed during our recent travels thro’ the countryside in Gujarat. All these toilets are conventional...

Remove trade barriers to reduce food inflation

Businessworld magazine interviewed Barun Mitra  on agriculture trade on June 10, 2014. He argued that removing barriers to agricultural trade, would stabilise the price for the consumers, and provide predictable price signal to the farmers, allowing both to sides to plan their consumption and investments. Free trade will also eliminate the ad hoc decisions by the government to either allow or shut trade, lower or raise trade barriers in a futile attempt either lower the prices for consumers or protect the interest of farmers, and ending up pleasing no one, except the special interests who profit in this melee. Clear land rights and titles, provide security of tenure to land owners and farmers, who can then decide the appropriate levels of investment to improve their...