News Karnataka
Saturday, June 03 2023
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Who gives a S**t? do you?

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I had to repeal the peals of laughter that were rumbling inside before I could even begin to write this column. And I’m still trying to get the minimum support from all of you for this column to sustain it. It’s not a demand, but a request. Do read and share widely. Please?

Chronology Samajhiye. The Farm was re-lawed into productivity and high returns in June 2020 to double farmer income and to promote the ease of agriculture – which ironically has now halved because of the agitation to repeal the laws. The new laws became in-laws to some in Nov 2020 and were treated as such. They were then stayed by the Apex Court on January 12, 2021– that means they stayed where they are – on the statute books. Finally, they have been totally outlawed (Nov 2021) and the status quo ante has been restored – in fact, it was never disturbed! This event coincided with the celebration of International Men’s Day and World Toilet Day on November 19. For many it was like (having) 8PM at 9 AM that day.

But S**t! There must be a connection, else why will these events collide and produce the big bang? One that could be heard beyond the Bathroom door? Which I must say many of us are privileged to have. I’ll have to return to that later – too much of pressure to finish what I started with. Please don’t let your imagination run wild. I was referring to our man-to-man conversation that often brings us together and yet tears (pronounce it any which way you like) us apart.

Well, the connection between these three events is that men are also sensitive to pressure (all kinds) too. This pressure can make them cry – in frustration, pain, joy or just because of a medical condition! And it’s ok to cry!  Not when they are arrested for indecent assault, but because one of their own did it or something equally reprehensible! Not just in private, but in public, on TV even. Water retention is bad for health – both mental and physical. This was the message all over the internet

When I read this message, I found my eyes had watered up – climate change goals were met! But I was not alone that day, there were so many – on the Singhu Border and on TV who displayed similar emotions, each for their own reasons. But it was clear as it should be – that men are as sensitive as women but were previously, either reluctant to, or trained not to, show it… And now that they are allowed, will they get a new label? Woe-men?

International Men’s Day celebrates worldwide, the positive value men bring to the world, their families, and communities. Plenty of positives there, and I’d rather not elaborate, for I might stumble and fall, because so much is expected of a man. But as you know every battery requires a negative too at the opposite end of its spectrum, to produce the electricity that lights up the world! Now, figure out how to light up your world!

It also highlights the importance of their wellbeing and women do have a role in that model. They are the ones that help them stay healthy, monitoring their diet… coke and rum, and everything they say and do.

So quite rightly, one of the six pillars of International Men’s Day is to improve gender relations and promote gender equality not only for men but for women too. For some men, this is a nightmare, and some women too. And that is why the theme for 2021 is “Better relations between men and women.”

This effort must go beyond a day, and well into the other 364, for it to have a beneficial effect on the world – the question is, is that upto the men or the women? Just because it’s the theme for the International Men’s Day it is not good to put too pressure on the men to achieve this objective. They may cry!

That’s fine; but on the same day, it was brought to our notice by the United Nations that 3.6 billion people in the world don’t have a toilet that “works properly”, and we were supposed to ensure a working toilet for all by 2030 according to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6! And that made many of us tear up – those of us who had a door that we could close behind us. There are 8 years left to achieve the objective but sadly, we have to concentrate on other emissions as per COP26 to save the planet – before we can ensure a poo without a peep!

While many pooh-poohed the idea, it was Jack Sim, a Singaporean businessman, back in 2001, who, with the idea to raise awareness about sanitation, and hygiene, started a crusade for better sanitation and hygiene practices around the world with the founding of the World Toilet Organization. WTO for WHO! For everyone! In 2012, the first slogan associated with the movement was coined “I give a s**t, do you?”

Apparently, the United Nations did, for, in 2013, the UNO adopted the day as World Toilet Day to educate billions who suffer the ill effects of open defecation, but it was not able to explain a fundamental aspect of this change from soiling (nurturing the soil, naturally) to recoiling… at the sight! It was real climate change! Or did it cause it?

The new sanitation chain envisaged creating a pipeline from toilets to the treatment of Human waste – a whole new eco-system that was meant to deal with waste, not become one! Sadly in some hands, it does.

Toilets for all is a human right the United Nations says must be addressed with sensitivity – Governments must listen to people without this access and include them in the planning and decision-making process. Surely, if a man is in charge, it will be. We just learned they are sensitive! In any case, these plans are discussed in five-star hotels, and they are well equipped to manage greenhouse gasses before emitting them via their air-cons.

But India is doing well in this regard because it is sensitive to the plight of its people. In recent years – since 2015, according to the UNICET, India has made rapid strides in correcting its s**t on site situation. Here is what it says: “Just a few years ago, in 2015, nearly half of India’s population of around 568 million people suffered the indignity of defecating in fields, forests, bodies of water, or other public spaces due to lack of access to toilets. India alone accounted for 90 per cent of the people in South Asia and half of the 1.2 billion people in the world that defecated in the open. But, by 2019, the number of people without access to toilets reduced significantly by an estimated 450 million people.”

So, as of now, there is no need to cry. Things are going well. Toilets and toiletries are widely available as the economy gets back on track, the farm laws have been repealed and all they are looking for is minimum support for their produce, fuel costs are down, and though cooking costs have gone up, food consumption is down as fitness awareness goes up, employment is back on track, and the work from office culture stands rejuvenated and this has had a telling positive effect on gender relations.

What we all need is the minimum support we can offer each other – a shoulder to cry on when it is necessary and the hope that it won’t be a cry in the wilderness!


This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental.

Image by Adam Maria Cristina 

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Brian Fernandes

Brian is an alumnus of Roshni Nilaya’s Post Graduate School of Social Work, HR Department and has 30 years of local and international HR and General Management experience. Journalism, poetry, and feature writing is a passion which he is now able to pursue at will. Additionally, he loves compering and hosting talk shows. He loves learning and imparting it; so, when time permits, he provides leadership facilitation and soft skills training to Postgraduate students and Corporates in Mangaluru and Bengaluru. Besides, he is an accomplished Toastmaster under the aegis of and a designated Distinguished Toast Master.

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