India, and the Unsung Cruelty of Life Without Massive Inequality

According to the New York Times, 564 million Indian citizens don’t have toilets, indoor or outdoor. You read that right. Roughly half of India’s population goes without what Americans of all economic stripes take for granted, and that is standard (indoors) in any American apartment or house.

The country’s females are often forced to relieve themselves in groups each day, thanks to threats of sexual assault. There’s safety in numbers, apparently. Others either get up extra early, or wait until after dark in order to avoid being watched.

That Indians suffer toilet scarcity is a given. But to recoil in horror at basic comforts that its citizens lack is to focus on symptoms as opposed to the real problem. The problem is that wealth inequality in India is not substantial enough. Evidence supporting the previous claim is that the simple act of going to the bathroom amounts to major inconvenience for hundreds of millions around the country. Great wealth is regularly earned through the erasure of life’s inconveniences.