Hyderabad seems to be on some kind of roll these days, but we’re entirely not sure what to make of it.
Just last month, Hyderabad banned begging for two months because Ivanka Trump was in town, and also began rounding up people who beg and putting them in “rehab” (AKA unused jail premises). Now, they’ve rolled out a new move to tackle public urination – whistleblowers.
The new “laathi-seeti campaign” arms Hyderabad municipal corporation sanitation workers with a stick and a whistle, which they use to halt people from urinating in public. We hope the sticks are meant for self-defence (one worker has already been attacked for his efforts), and not to allow satiation workers to assault urinators. The workers are also meant to “politely” direct people to the nearest public toilet, which is a pretty nice idea.
This isn’t the first time Hyderabad has attempted to tackle public urination by public humiliation. In January, they began a program where workers would garland public urinators, and a city-wide legislation mandates a Rs 200 penalty for urinating in public.
While tackling public urination is definitely something all Indian cities need to look into, it would also be a good idea to ease off on the humiliation to do it. It’s the same instinct that seems to drive one arm of the government’s Swacch Bharat campaign, which includes uploading photos of people defecating in public onto social media in order to humiliate them, and it’s a pretty sorry instinct altogether. It also led to the death of a man in Rajasthan back in June, who was beaten up by officials when he objected to their taking pictures of women defecating.
So while Hyderabad’s idea of directing public urinators to public toilets is a great one, perhaps the whole plan would be an even greater success if the sticks and whistles were meant to direct and defend, and not humiliate and attack. No government plan should be based on humiliation, so we hope this new move plays out without it.