By Avani Bansal:
Its 10:00 am. I am sitting at the railway station, the biggest railway junction of West Central Railways, where around 200 trains pass through per day and 4 lakh passengers travel each day.
As I raised my head from the magazine I was reading, just a glance around brought to my memory the oft-repeated characteristic or rather speciality of India — ‘University in Diversity’. What prevailed was an amalgamation of animals, human-beings and garbage. The diversity of animals ranged from rats to cows, of human beings from beggars to filthy rich and of garbage from polythene to human excreta! And all this existed in such synchronisation that not a single human mind seemed disturbed with such state of affairs. After all, why should it be? Because just above me, hung a board announcing – “West Central Railways- A New Journey Towards Clean Travel Has Begun. An ISO 9001:2000 Certified Project. Clean Train Station — Itarsi.”
Though the railway platforms are not means for ‘animals’, cow — which is our ‘religious animal’ seems to have an arbitrary right to sit wherever it wants to and so the one that sat right under the hoarding seemed very much at ease which gave me an impression that perhaps she has an implicit understanding with the ‘project makers’.
A repugnant smell of urine had filled the air. Overflowing taps seemed to make everyone around feel ‘proud’ as if it signified that this was the land with plenty of water. (Even if you haven’t visited Rajasthan, but if you have seen the Road movie, you would understand the implications better!) The sweeper sweeped all the garbage from the platform to fall directly in the bosom of railway tracks which was truly a hallmark of ‘duty with responsibility.’
And then, a question naturally followed, why does no one seem bothered? Are we habituated to live amidst garbage? How can we excrete and eat at the same place? And what image does it portray of us as ‘Indians’ to a foreigner who has arrived in India for the first time — poor, shabby, uncivilized? Leave aside foreigners, the integral fact is that it only degrades our own image in our very own eyes.
And all our technological, scientific, and educational progress seems buried in the graveyard, as we continue to dirty our own nest! Throwing stuff wherever one pleases, peeing wherever one feels more convenient at, and then those sights of slum dwellers living amidst all of that…with their children playing in the same garbage, alongside pigs, goats and whatever animals there may be, a scene which is common before and after all stations if you are travelling by train! Such unity and such diversity!
And other question naturally follows — will this ever change? Who will bring about this change? Where will the change start from? Will I ever change? Will you ever change? Will we ever have — home clean home!