Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Friday, June 25, 2010

the inspirational ishwarkaka patel

he is affectionately called Mr. Toilet.
since the early 60s he has been toiling over spreading good, simple, decentralised sanitation to each house in the country.

meet ishwarkaka patel (on the left).

photo courtesy - gandhi-king community Link
we did not meet him, but spent hours with his remarkable son - jayeshbhai patel, aka baby toilet.
very little of him is available online - a true tribute to a man focussed on his grassroots work.

he has created 2 institutions, Safai Vidyalaya and Environmental Sanitation Institute (ESI)
the simple act of creating toilets digs deeper over time towards removing manual scavenging, harijan welfare, women's empowerment, children's education, alternate energy via biogas and my favorite - elimination of the sewage grid.
and his genius has been to tie in all these factors in developing and spreading the 'toilet message'.
the innovative and lovely toilet museum adorns the entrance of safai vidyalaya - on the side of the sabarmati ashram. a display of various types of indian style commodes, cattle feed stations, etc.,

we have got back a variety of books/literature from ESI useful for awareness building and technical documents on building biogas units. dont miss it if you ever land up at the sabarmati ashram.

his recent and more swank establishment is the ESI knowledge center in Sugadh on the outskirts of Ahemdabad. we had the privilege of staying there.
pretty, superb design and inspiring messages all around.

displays and real-life models of a variety of toilet models.

even the floor tilings represent toilets :-)

a true architectural design classic which literally practices what it preaches.
a 2 lakh liter rain water storage tank - one wall of which is shared with the 2 conference halls. just imagine the cooling effect.
an operational biogas plant, natural lighting, solar panels and abundant greenery.

the shadow of gandhiji looms strongly on ishwarkaka and ESI.
ishwarkaka's life continues to be a lesson in determination, dedication and selfless devotion.

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