I know, stupid joke, and yet...apt.
I refer, of course, to the masterpiece published in HT this morning, "Essentially India: You don't have to scrunch your nose here," by Ashok Das, on the subject of public defecation in backwater villages.
Yes, a menace more threatening than terrorism in Doda, more significant than the opening of the Nathu La pass to China...poop.
"The approach road to [Ramachadrapur] village had earlier been lined with human excreta, forcing people to cover their nose. Now it is squeaky clean...The village sarpanch, Bhanu Prakash, decided to abolish open defecation and went door to door convincing people to give up relieving themselves in public."
Alright, alright...perhaps I can buy this from a public health perspective. Until Das goes and makes these people look like complete and utter asses.
"'Initially there was stiff opposition. Used to defecation in the open for generations, many people were finding it difficult to get used to the toilet. But gradually and grudgingly they changed and today the village is defecation-free,' Bhanu Prakash said."
Let's set aside, for a moment, the way in which this drives a divide from the city folk -- pristine and clean atop their porcelain commodes -- and those backward village idylls. There are several possible reasons for such bald, idiotically constructed sentences to be printed:
1) The journalist is functionally illiterate;
2) The journalist finds this story hilarious and wants to make a spectacle of hard-fought progress;
3) The copy editor didn't read the story;
4) The copy editor doesn't have the sense that god gave a billy goat; or
5) The copy editor wants to mock the idiotic journalist and inspire readers to clutch at their breasts imagining the intestinal fortitude of these constantly constipated chaps