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.
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