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Reducing open defecation: important conversations with middle class India
" UNICEF India recently teamed up with TEDx to provide 500 urban progressive middle class Indian’s with an alternative to the usual weekend activities found in air-conditioned shopping malls, cinemas an "

P.B Salim Open defecation talk

By: Sue Coates, Chief WASH India, Maria Fernandez, Communication Specialist India and Caroline den Dulk, Chief Communication India.  

UNICEF India recently teamed up with TEDx to provide 500 urban progressive middle class Indian’s with an alternative to the usual weekend activities found in air-conditioned shopping malls, cinemas and restaurants.

We invited them to listen, talk and engage in ‘shit’ at a dedicated ‘TEDxWalledCity’ event. In a country where just under half the population (564 million people) do not use a toilet, the event challenged a disturbing belief among many middle class and young Indians that ‘inequality is not only inevitable but legitimate’ (Mander 2015).

‘This is amazing’, wrote one Tweeter, ‘what a beautiful and powerful talk…straight shooter, no bullshit. Brilliant’, wrote another.

So a very exciting day for UNICEF India with incredible speakers who had the audience repeatedly breaking into applause. Perhaps the most celebrated talk was by Dr. P. B. Salim, the District Magistrate of Nadia District, West Bengal where UNICEF has provided technical advice contributing to 5 million people becoming new toilet users. Dr. Salim talked specifically about how the creation of a mass social movement has resulted in Nadia becoming the first open defecation free district under Prime Minister Modi’s government. 

About TEDxWalledCity 

TEDxWalledCity 2015 is an independently organised TED event in partnership with major development institutions.At TEDxWalledCity, speakers with world changing ideas come together with an inspired audience to spark deep discussion and connections between participants. The Delhi event focused on sanitation balanced with other talks and performances to leverage and sustain interest

Other speakers included Mr. Darshan Hathi who shared experiences around community approaches promoted by the Art of Living - a spiritual educational and humanitarian organisation.

Ashif Sheikh, an Indian social activist known for his campaigning to eradicate manual scavenging, spoke passionately about the empowerment realized by Dalit women as this appalling practice is stopped. Sangita Vyas discussed the 'Squat Survey' she's been part of and the barriers that are preventing people from taking their poo to the loo.

Professor Srinivas Chary, from the Administrative Staff College of India deliberated the problems and success stories in India’s mission to secure sustainable WASH across 1.4 million schools. Member of Parliament, Mr. K Vishweshwar Reddy, chair of the UNICEF supported WASH Legislative Forum, had the audience completely engaged with his ideas around sanitation and energy innovations. 

Beyond the immediate audience 1 million people were reached online and 3.5 million impressions were generated on social media; 200,000 emails sent and 400 seconds of radio time aired.  150 people wishing to secure last minute seats were sadly disappointed however they, like you, can watch the below.  

Our next event which is already scheduled for November!

Tweets from the event 

Ashif Sheikh talking about manual scavengers; over a million of them in India, he says @TEDxWalledCity1 #poo2loo

'It's not just their (manual scavengers') problem, it's OUR problem', Ashif Sheikh #TEDxWalledCity1 #poo2loo

Constructing Toilets is not equal to Total Sanitation: K Vishweahwara Reddy, MP, Lok Sabha. #TEDxWalledCity1 #poo2loo

What can we do? Speak about it! It's in our hands! Talk about it on social media, on all channel: S Chary, on #Sanitation #TEDxWalledCity1

So I guess the message (from Nadia's success story) is - it's not Rocket Science, it can be done: Dr. Salim, DM, Nadia #TEDxWalledCity1

Watch the videos

Bike it to save your city | Amit Kapoor | TEDxWalledCity

How to change the world - one click at a time! | Pankhuri Awasthi | TEDxWalledCity

India's inhuman practice of manual scavenging and untouchability | Ashif Shaikh | TEDxWalledCity

Making India open defecation free - one district at a time | P B Salim | TEDxWalledCity

The need for urgent innovation in WASH | Konda Vishweshwar Reddy | TEDxWalledCity

The Greatest Generation? | Vaibhav Singh | TEDxWalledCity

Breaking the silence on gender violence | Vibha Bakshi | TEDxWalledCity

Failure is WOW! | Sushant Kalra | TEDxWalledCity

How handwashing can save 100,000 lives | Srinivas Chary | TEDxWalledCity

The musical journey of a bollywood diva | Shibani Kashyap | TEDxWalledCity

The surprising truth of open defecation in India | Sangita Vyas | TEDxWalledCity

Yoga - India's open source gift to the world | Raja Choudhury | TEDxWalledCity

Music of everyday life, love, redemption and rain! | Dhruv Visvanath | TEDxWalledCity

River rejuvenation through community participation | Darshak Hathi | TEDxWalledCityI

Introduction Capital: How to help others to help yourself | Annurag Batra | TEDxWalledCity


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