Sanitation in Ancient India and Implications for Future

A true and all-inclusive Renaissance or Rebirth of India can never exclude conscious care, preservation and rejuvenation of the outer body of India. For our monthly video lecture, this time we take up a topic highly relevant for civic planning in India of today and tomorrow. With a growing population, the problem of human waste management becomes a serious one, especially when we consider its impact on our environmental health including farming and water supply.

November 19 is observed as World Toilet Day by the United Nations to raise awareness about sanitation, personal hygiene and the incredible aid that toilets provide to our daily lives. These areas should never be overlooked when we are concerned with the overall quality of life and well-being of a nation’s population.

This lecture by Ms. Sahana Singh was recorded on Jun 12, 2020.

Ms. Singh begins by giving a brief overview of the wisdom of ancient Indian thinkers on the topic of sanitation and hygiene. She then summarises how because of their lack of understanding of the significance of personal hygiene and proper sanitation methods, the European or Western urban planners promoted technologies which ended up creating more health concerns. Towards the end of her lecture, Ms. Singh gives examples of how the ancient Indian understanding of sanitation and personal hygiene can be brought back in newer ways with proper research and development, and mentions that a few steps have already been taken in this direction.

Watch the recorded lecture:



About the speaker: Sahana Singh is an author, editor and columnist who writes to create awareness about various issues including sanitation, water management, environment and Indian history. She graduated from Delhi College of Engineering in India with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering. She worked as an engineer in the Environment Department of HPCL Refinery in Mumbai before switching her career to writing. She has earned several accolades including the winner of national essay contests, winner of the Water Media Network Journalists Competition conducted by the World Bank in 2003, winner of Developing Asia Journalism Awards (Infrastructure Category) in 2008. Her short animation video “The Forgotten Cycle” won the first prize at the Delft University of Technology’s Urban Water Movie Contest in 2012. She served as the editor of Asian Water Magazine, Asia’s leading magazine on water and wastewater for 12 years. Sahana Singh’s articles have been published in Reader’s Digest, Washington Post and Discovery Channel Asia, among other publications. She also spreads awareness on sanitation and water management issues through her thought-provoking and inspiring talks.

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Renaissance, the monthly e-journal of AuroBharati, features inspiring articles, essays, book reviews or book excerpts, interviews, reflections and artworks that speak of how the eternal spirit and creative genius of India are being reborn and renewed in various domains – spiritual, artistic, literary, philosophic, scientific, aesthetic.

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