Take Poo to the Loo-the new youth mantra against open defecation in India
UNICEF's campaign Take Poo to the Loo has brought out the fight against open defecation - onto the streets and online; to industry, government bodies, academia and citizen groups, by roping in the strongest voices in the nation - the Youth. And this youth army now has a rousing mantra - India's First Poo Song titled "Poo Party".
Composed by famous Indo-Jazz music composer, songwriter and producer Shrikanth Sriram (a Dewarist's artist who holds stunning compositions like the theme for the movie Life of Pi to his credit ), the song captures the brazenness and audacity of the Poo Man that irks and annoys his listeners. One feels a strong urge to put him in his rightful place by flushing him down the toilet.
Speaking about the inspiration behind the music, Shri says "Ah Shit! The smell that brings me home very quickly with a thud! I would rather have the smell of Pav Baji bring me home. Anyone trying to do anything about public defecation needs to be supported fully. And the best I can do is to write some music to help."
Composed to shake-up and make one take action, the funky and animated song uses 'toilet sounds' to show that if left to grow at its current pace, the disgusting reality of open defecation might multiply to a level where it starts invading your personal space. It might become a truth you wake up to every morning - bombarding your life during the day, and becoming a constant nightmare.
"With this first poo song in the history of India, we have pushed the boundaries. Never before has open defecation been so visible through new media. This song demonstrates that you can talk about a very serious issue and challenge a deep rooted social norm in an accessible, fun way, and using everyday words common to young people," states Caroline den Dulk, Chief Advocacy and Communication, UNICEF India.
Bands like Indian Ocean and Raghu Dixit have come out in support of the campaign. In addition, academic institutions like IIT Delhi are working with colleges across Delhi - through rallies, seminars, poster-making, mobile app development and film and animation competitions- to get more youth involved in bringing about change. IIT Delhi is also supporting the campaign and has organized a dance and music event today at 5:30pm in PVR Priya in Vasant Vihar to unveil the anthem.
"Students of various clubs from IIT Delhi have been involved in taking the poo2loo messages to the young student population of Delhi. They have been very active in organizing awareness raising activities about open defecation and the need for a concerted campaign to enable people squat with dignity. In order to contribute to the anthem dissemination, the dance club surprised passers-by with a flash mob followed by an interaction with the protagonist of the campaign, Mr Poo, who did not want to miss the Poo party song," IIT Delhi Professor Vijayaraghavan M Chariar explains.
Also PVR Nest, the CSR arm of PVR Cinemas is supporting the campaign. "We will be raising awareness amongst cinema-goers and ticket -purchasers over the week-end of 14th. The animated Poo to Loo song will be later used to raise awareness among street children groups with whom PVR Nest works closely," says Deepa Menon, Vice President CSR & Corporate Communication, PVR Ltd.
Crafted in the language of the youth - quirky, fun and informative, every element of the campaign directs young people to a microsite that engages and educates around the issue of Open Defecation. Through social media activities (Facebook posts, posters, videos, Twitter activities, an online game and a mobile application), and letting the character of Poo Man wreak havoc on the streets of New Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad, greater youth-engagement is targeted. With over 1, 09, 000 pledges already signed, an army of youth advocates is shaping up to support the cause and spread the message of fighting open defecation.
The final target is to get the signed pledge to the President of India and demand for an open defecation-free India.
India has made important progress in the provision and use of toilets in the last 20 years, reducing the practise of open defecation from 75 per cent of the population in 1990 to 51 per cent in 2010. However it is still home to the world's largest population of people who defecate in the open. 620 million people, half the population don't use toilets, and the other half have become blind to the practice.
(Posted on 15-02-2014)