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)