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...This would have been three times as fast as the fastest five-year decline in open defecation ever recorded in any country. So we should not be surprised that now, almost two-thirds of the way through the Swachh Bharat Mission, it appears very unlikely that open defecation will be eliminated on time. 2019 was never a realistic goal in the first place. But this does not necessarily imply that we should be disappointed. The diseases spread by open defecation in densely populated rural India are so threatening to the survival, health, and development of children that even a modest acceleration in the pace of open defecation’s decline could represent a substantial improvement in well-being. In fact, the best rural sanitation policy is not one that pretends an unachievable goal is achievable. ...Live Mint on July 10, 2017, 8:03 a.m.