By Geetanjali Maria:
As I sat in the auto, jam packed with all kinds of people from all sides, in the half an hour journey I observed that at least 6 of the 10 people in the auto had spit outside once or more, or had chucked left-over eatables out of the window and onto the road. These happen to be the same people who later on complain how filthy and unclean India is. We ourselves are indeed responsible for the dirt and scum on the roadsides and other public properties.
No historical monument in India is free from the graffiti posted by unscrupulous Indian visitors who are more interested in recording their arrival than in safekeeping and maintaining our rich heritage that has been left to us by our ancestors. There is no public wall in India to be found free if the dirty-red of pan-spit; a unique feature, found only in India. Every nook and cranny of our country houses plastic litter or half-eaten corn and groundnut leftovers.
We are the same Indians who when traveling/living outside India would take utmost care not to drop even a toffee wrapper on the roadside. We are the same Indians who would blindly follow traffic rules in other countries but while in our own country would jump traffic signals and blare horns at no-noise zones (Ok, some part of this concern does come from the fear of the huge fines such acts may result in). We are the same people who can stand patiently and silently in long queues to get a bottle of whisky but grumble and fight when caught in traffic jams or have to wait in queues for getting any paper clearance done or certificate made. We are the very ones who love to keep our own house and surroundings clean but wouldn’t mind dumping our wastes into our neighbor’s compound. This is the irony of Indians.
But the blame cannot be entirely put on the general public. The lack of amenities like public toilets and waste bins is also partly responsible for all these misdeeds. But it still needs to be seen how much Indians would adhere to these new systems and take a bit of extra pain and trouble to drop the waste wrapper in the dustbin. Despite such facilities provided in some places we can often find people who prefer to relieve themselves in the open than pay a rupee for the use—and—pay toilets. Most of the bins on the roadsides are full and spill over due to either lack of regular disposal by the civic authorities or due to the general trend of the public to throw waste items around the bin than in it and proudly (but falsely) proclaim that he/she is a good citizen and dumps waste only ‘in’ the bin.
India is our country, our home and it is our responsibility to keep it clean and tidy. Carrying a chocolate wrapper half a kilometer with you till you can find a dustbin to dispose it off wouldn’t cost you much of energy or trouble. Just like one doesn’t spit on the walls of one’s own house, it is our moral duty not to spit on the walls of our country. Our surroundings and our way of life is the impression foreign tourists carry of India. Let each one be the other one’s guide and together help keep India clean.
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.