Bihar teachers protest orders to take photographs of defecation

Teachers’ associations, however, have said that while they support the ODF campaign, they find it “difficult” to comply with the instructions because it “insults teachers,” undermines “dignity” and could “endanger safety.”

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Updated: November 22, 2017 7:35 am
Bihar, Bihar defecation, defecation program, bihar defecation program, bihar teachers, bihar teachers protest, india news, indian express, indian express news Teachers’ associations said they support the ODF campaign, but find it “difficult” to comply with the instructions because it “insults teachers.”

Teachers have protested against instructions issued by Block Development Officers (BDOs) in certain districts to photograph individuals defecating in the open as part of the state’s Open Defecation Free (ODF) campaign. The Aurangabad district administration has decided to declare Pawai panchayat of Deo block ODF by December 31, 2017, and has, therefore, got 61 primary and middle-school teachers enrolled in the campaign since November 18; the Kudni block administration in Muzaffarpur has engaged 144 teachers.

Teachers’ associations, however, have said that while they support the ODF campaign, they find it “difficult” to comply with the instructions because it “insults teachers,” undermines “dignity” and could “endanger safety.”

Bihar Madhyamik Sikshak Sangh (BMSS) general secretary and former MP Shatrughan Prasad Singh wrote to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today demanding withdrawal of the orders which ask them to visit villages in the morning and evening.

In his November 18 order, Kudni BDO Harimohan Kumar said: “Teachers concerned are hereby ordered that they will create awareness about ODF among villagers and guardians in their panchayat. Alongside, they will post photographs (of open defecation). Morning follow-up is scheduled between 6 am and 7 am and evening follow-up between 5 pm and 6 pm.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, a Muzaffarpur teacher said: “We were told to take pictures of open defecation. When we said that it could create a law-and-order problem, especially, if we were to take pictures of women or girls going for open defecation, there was no satisfactory response.”

Kumar was not available for comment but Muzaffarpur District Education Officer Lalan Prasad told The Indian Express: “I will speak to the BDO to seek clarification. My office has talked only about our teachers supporting awareness campaign for ODF and not engage in any other activity”.

In his order, Deo BDO Pankaj Kumar Shaktidhar said: “Morning follow-up would begin from 5 am and evening follow-up from 4 pm everyday till December 27”. Said a Deo teacher: “We have been told to take photographs of men, if not women”.

When contacted, Shaktidhar said: “We have engaged only those teachers who get a house rent allowance from the government. Since they are posted in the same areas where they teach, they can go on morning and evening rounds”. Asked about orders to take photographs of open defecation, he said: “There is no pressure”.

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  1. R
    R.K. Ghanekar
    Nov 22, 2017 at 2:20 pm
    The orders are extremely disgusting. Not only they demean the teachers but also shows the mentality that all govt servants under the more privileged higher authorities are really slaves whom they can order around to do whatever their whims dictate. That is the kind of respect we hold our teachers in - not only in Bihar but all over India. These incompetent fools can not get the jobs done from the employees whose job it is. It is not teachers' job anyway but they are the easy targets. This is not a lone instance, every govt has treated teachers in Govt ins utions exactly like this. The ambit has increased with this government where even very high ranking officers of PSUs etc. have been ordered to do jobs which is not their job primarily. Govt may claim that teachers support "no open defecation" drive or PSU's support other initiatives but remember they do it under coercion from Govt. Conclusion is Govt has not been able to really motivate people as much as it claims to have done.
    1. K
      Nov 22, 2017 at 12:58 pm
      This situation is similar to another incident where a police officer forces a woman to remove her burqa only to a please a CM who was to address the gathering. Very often government officers, to please their political bosses, go to any extent. Please remember you are an officer to serve the public, janta janardan, and they are your real customers. Political bosses are only there to supervise your jobs.
      1. K
        Nov 22, 2017 at 12:52 pm
        Teachers are right, they are concerned about their own and the dignity of the fellow citizens who go for ODF. To ensure physical cleanliness please do not spoil your internal cleanliness of respecting the individual soul. Yes, it is time consuming to educate and explain the benefits of cleanliness to some ignorant people. But once they get the knowledge without pressure or blackmail, such education will last long. Swach Hriday, Swach Bharat!
        1. Gita
          Nov 22, 2017 at 10:19 am
          It is despicable to first of all want to photograph the hapless people who defecate in the open. Even worse, forcing teachers or other govt employees to take such pictures. Most people, if they could afford to maintain a clean toilet with running water and proper sewage systems in place, would not prefer to go in the open. The govt should first enable the funds to the individual to build and maintain such toilets, or provide proper and clean toilet facilities very close to the houses of those who do not have them. The government's Swach Bharat programme is a good beginning but needs to be implemented in a humane, not degrading manner.
          1. M
            Nov 22, 2017 at 9:29 am
            I guess the BJP partners in the Govt are suggesting that open defecators should be excused if they show the Aadhar Card.
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