‘Toilet Revolution’ bride gets only Rs 500 as brand ambassador
The woman who got international attention for ushering ‘toilet revolution’ in India neither her village nor panchayat could become ODF, thanks to Madhya Pradesh government
The coy Indian bride, who made it to the headlines, way back in 2011, for ushering in a toilet revolution in India, is now leading a life of alienation. While the movie based on her life – Toilet: EK Prem Katha is making it to Page 3 section daily.
Anita Narre, an Arts Graduate from Madhya Pradesh’s Jiturana village in Betul district, was heralded by all for a brave feat and even rewarded for making such a demand for the first time in India, where open defecation is a norm. However, after the initial acknowledgement, today, Anita leads an anonymous life. Interestingly, Anita, the brand ambassador of Swachh Bharat’s Ghar Ghar mein Sauch (Toilets at Every House) for MP, has been least utilized by the government to sensitise people about the ills of defecating in the open.
“Apart from being in news for sometimes and getting rewarded by Sulabh International, we have not been used by the state or union governments to inspire people to build toilets,” rued Anita to eNewsroom, who chose to leave her in-laws home within two days of being married, for the lack of a toilet in their house.
Her husband, Shivram Narre, was left with no option but to have a toilet built in a bid to bring back his bride. It took him 10 days to fulfill his wife’s demand. Sulabh International rewarded Anita with a cash prize, while MP government announced her as Swachh Bharat’s ambassador in 2012.
“But, even after announcement, for one year, no government official contacted us. Later in 2013, we went to Vidyanchal Bhavan, Bhopal, where we filled a form, which stated that we would be getting a fee of Rs 500 for visiting each panchayat to inspire villagers to build toilet and not to defecate in open,” recalled Shivram.
“However, we could visit only two panchayats—Khadla and Shelgaun. Thereafter, no official assisted us in visiting other places. We have been left to do it of our own. When we demanded travelling allowance, no one cared. As we had no money to do it on our own, the movement could not take any shape further,” he added.
Interestingly, Open Defecation Free (ODF) is a term of Indian government’s Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan, which also made it to the headlines recently, when Pratapgarh Municipal officials allegedly lynched Zafar Khan, for stopping them to click pictures of women defecating in the open. However, it seems MP government is not that keen on meeting its target, when the ‘revolutionary bride’ hails from state itself. Not only government did not use them for the cause but was also not very kind to the couple.
“Leave aside the work of persuading people to make toilets, in 2013 we got only Rs 500 for our work as the MP government’s brand ambassador” revealed Anita.
The couple is jobless at the moment and has already used the five lakhs reward to build a three room pucca house, which is still under construction.
Shivram, a third year student of Bachelor of Science, works as a daily labour to make ends meet. “I often take up odd jobs as a daily labour. I am paid Rs 100 for each day that I work,” said Shivram. Anita, a graduate now, is also in the look out of a job, so that they can provide a stable life to their two daughters.
Interestingly, her village and village panchayat (which comprises of four neighbouring villages) is yet to become ODF, even as Akshay Kumar starrer Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is getting raving reviews for highlighting a burning issue. Wouldn’t, it have been more interesting if the actor, who recently unveiled 24 toilets in 24 hours via Instagram, had asked Kaya, the organization that is constructing toilets, to build a few in Anita’s panchayat too. After all, it all began there, right?