India

Half of Indian Homes have Phones but No Toilets

Nearly half of India’s 1.2bn people do not have toilets at home, but more people own a mobile phone, according to the latest census data.

Only 46.9% of the 246.6 million households have lavatories while 49.8% defecate in the open. The remaining 3.2% use public toilets.

Census 2011 data on houses, household amenities and assets reveals that 63.2% homes have a telephone.

Analysts say the data shows the complex contradictions of the Indian system.

They say it reveals a country where millions have access to cutting-edge technology and consumer goods but a larger number of poor who lack access to even basic facilities.

About 77% of homes in the eastern state of Jharkhand have no toilet facilities, while the figures are 76.6% for Orissa and 75.8% in Bihar. All three are among India’s most backward states with huge populations which live on less than a dollar.

“Open defecation continues to be a big concern for the country as almost half of the population do it,” Registrar General and Census Commissioner C Chandramouli said on Tuesday while releasing the latest data.

“Cultural and traditional reasons and a lack of education are the prime reasons for this unhygienic practice. We have to do a lot in these fronts,” he said.

The data also reveals that Indian now largely live in nuclear families with 70% of homes consisting only one couple – a dramatic change in a country where joint families were always the norm.

The census figures also show the change in how people get information and entertainment.

More than half the population – 53.2% – have a mobile phone.

There has been a 16% rise in the number of homes with television sets, while the use of radios has declined by 15%.

The data shows that 47.2% households have television while only 19.9% have a radio.

And the reach of computers with internet facility is still miniscule with only 3.1% of the population connected. (Courtesy: BBC)

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