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Jimmy Kimmel making fun of India's sanitation problem is not funny at all. It is offensive

Pathikrit Sanyal | News18.com

Updated: June 22, 2015, 3:40 PM IST
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Jimmy Kimmel making fun of India's sanitation problem is not funny at all. It is offensive
Jimmy Kimmel's attempt at toilet humour managed to stink worse than an unwashed public urinal.

India is a country riddled with a lot of issues and a lot of problems. We are a developing nation trying to cope with more than our fair share of woes. And this is a process that will take time. One of the bigger obstructions on our path to development is sanitation. Lets face it. We are not the world leaders in that field. In fact we are far from it. But we are trying.

Before the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went so far as to say that he plans to build toilets first and temples later. Just goes to show much of an issue it really is.

According to a Firstpost article, more than half of the 1.2 billion people in India live without toilets. Approximately 54.7 per cent households in the country are without toilets. Even a UNICEF report mentioned that the national Indian average of sanitation, hygiene and water safety is mere 34 per cent. For the urban population it is 58 per cent whereas for the people in the rural area it is just 23 per cent.

We can safely assume that we Indians know that we are faced with a problem. According to a PTI story, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has found an innovative way to eradicate practice of open defecation. They announced 'use and get paid' scheme under which people will be paid Re 1 for using public toilets.

"We have around 315 public toilets in the city. And we have identified some 120 areas where open defecation is practiced around the public toilet facility. Initially, users of public toilet will be paid in these areas. Earlier, the concept was 'pay and use' in public toilets, but now it will be 'use and get paid' for," said Standing Committee Chairman Pravin Patel.

The idea is to get people into the habit of using toilets, first with incentive and then without. A good initiative, one would say.

But nothing is too good for American TV host Jimmy Kimmel. In a recent episode of his critically acclaimed talk show 'Jimmy Kimmel Live', a short sketch was aired that was about the aforementioned scheme by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

The sketch was derogatory to say the least. Jimmy Kimmel goes out of his way to use the highly cliched 'Indian' English accent, and takes uncalled-for pot-shots (pun unintended) at the idea of Indians working towards better sanitation.

One can argue that it is humour, and satire and what not. But one can also argue that it is a privileged man from a developed nation looking down upon a developing one. Satire would have been the right way to go about it, if it was making fun of the fact that we, as a country, have let public urination and defecation happen. It is completely alright to make fun of something that is wrong in our society. What my problem with Jimmy Kimmel is, that he chose to make fun of measure aimed at trying to curb this problem.

To someone who doesn't know better, it may seem like a silly way to go about it, but the fact remains that no matter how silly or mindless something like this may seem, it is something that we should wholeheartedly encourage. Not make fun of.

Whatever be the case, Jimmy Kimmel's attempt at toilet humour managed to stink worse than an unwashed public urinal.

First Published: June 22, 2015, 1:46 PM IST
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