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Scouring the seat of ease: AI toilets revolutionize India’s sanitation
By Disha Ganguli  |  Apr 25, 2024
Scouring the seat of ease: AI toilets revolutionize India’s sanitation
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The northeastern Indian state of Bihar, the country’s neediest, has long been synonymous with poor sanitation and public health. AI expert Disha Ganguli recently paid a visit to inspect conditions there. AI is beginning to rinse away unpleasant practices, her research reveals.

BIHAR, INDIA - Using a public washroom in India is a crash survival course.

One belief common to all religions is that cleanliness is next to godliness. This tenet is also preached in India, but it is more honored in the breach than the observance. 

When a majority latches onto a trend, it becomes a norm, and this is when the world stops sidestepping the issue. When it does so, lines of rightness or wrongness dissolve and debates on its morality or immorality take a backseat. Fully-formed standards then tend to set in stone. Many parts of India have, however, not yet reached this threshold.

Public pooing

Bihar - India’s third-largest state, which borders Nepal - with its dense population and limited resources, has long grappled with the scourge of open defecation. Concerted efforts by government and nongovernmental organizations notwithstanding, the practice persists due to various factors, poverty, lack of awareness, and inadequate sanitation infrastructure, among them. The consequences are the spread of diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid fever - all preventable, and which undermine public health efforts as a whole.

Unclean restrooms in healthcare facilities further compound these health hazards, serving as breeding grounds for pathogens and causing their proliferation. 

Several interviews on the condition of public bathrooms in India capture this perpetual agony:

Kiera Crowley Phelps, PhD researcher from Ithaca, New York: “I was here in Bihar for some field work that my PhD entails. Being a keen explorer, I went to places such as zoos and museums that had traumatizing toilet systems with broken doors, no water available, and floors covered with human excrement. Knowing that I must spend quite some time in Bihar to complete my fieldwork, I chose to not drink water to prevent havin

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