Almost half of India’s 1.2 billion people have no toilet at home, but more people own a mobile phone, according to the latest census data.
Only 46.9% of the 246.6 million households have lavatories while 49.8% defecate in the open. The remaining 3.2% use public toilets.
Census 2011 data on houses, household amenities and assets reveal that 63.2% of homes have a telephone.
Analysts say the data show the complex contradictions of the Indian system.
They say the census reveals a country where millions have access to cutting-edge technology and consumer goods but a larger number of poor who lack access to even basic facilities.
About 77% of homes in the eastern state of Jharkhand have no toilet facilities, while the figure is 76.6% for Orissa and 75.8% in Bihar. All three are among India’s poorest states with huge populations which live on less than a dollar.
“Open defecation continues to be a big concern for the country as almost half of the population do it,” Registrar General and Census Commissioner C. Chandramouli said while releasing the latest data.
“Cultural and traditional reasons and a lack of education are the prime reasons for this unhygienic practice. We have to do a lot in these fronts,” he said.
The data also reveal that Indians now largely live in nuclear families with 70% of homes consisting of only one couple – a dramatic change in a country where joint families were always the norm.
The census figures also show changes in how people access information and entertainment.
More than half of population – 53.2% – has a mobile phone.
There has been a 16% rise in the number of homes with television sets, while the use of radios has declined by 15%.
The data show that 47.2% of households have a television while only 19.9% have a radio.
And the reach of computers with internet access is still miniscule, with only 3.1% of the population connected.