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Rajasthan village takes on Trump’s name for free toilets but doesn’t know who he is

More than 60% of the country’s 1.3 billion people still defecate in the open, a challenge that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attempting to tackle through his Swacch Bharat initiative.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2017 19:13 IST
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press, Maroda (Rajasthan)
Rajasthan,Donald Trump,Trump village
A charity named Sulabh International, after the Hindi word for “accessible,” is meant to describe the simple pit toilets it builds for free across a country that has too few. (AP Photo)

A village in Rajasthan has been named after the incumbent US President, but its 400-odd villagers have no idea who Donald Trump is. All they know is that the new name is a promotional gimmick that will lead to free toilets being built in each of their mud-built houses.

The new name, Trump Sulabh Village, is not official, and will not appear on maps. However, it is part of efforts by Sulabh International, a charity organisation, to honour relations with the US and draw support for better sanitation in India.

Village are delighted as elders tell them the renaming means the 60 or so houses will get the simple pit toilets that are currently few in number. None of the funding for the new toilets is coming from Trump or the US, though.

“I don’t understand why they couldn’t name it after our own prime minister,” said construction worker Sajid Hussain. Still, he’s happy for the toilet-building initiative and hopes it is followed with funding for education, electricity and other improvements.

For an inauguration attended by media Friday, organisers coached villagers to shout “Zindabad!” which means “Long live!” each time they shouted Trump’s name. The ceremony was staged just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Washington, D.C., for a sit-down with Trump.

The charity’s founder, Bindeshwar Pathak, acknowledged that naming the village after Trump was a stunt aimed at drawing more attention — and hopefully funding — for their efforts to improve sanitation across India.

“Trump is the president of the leading nation in the world, so that’s why I chose him,” he said.

The fact that there are few toilets in the dusty village of Maroda, about 70 kilometers north of New Delhi, is not unusual. More than 60% of India’s 1.3 billion people still defecate in the open, and dysentery kills hundreds of millions of children every year.

First Published: Jun 23, 2017 18:01 IST