Every Indian cherishes their childhood monsoon memories. We reminisce about roaming around the roof, playing in the field, and relishing the welcome relief from the hot sunny days of summer.
But for me, it was a quite different experience as a child. I wished that the rains would not come. Where I grew up, our whole locality was surrounded by a waste dump. Even though it stunk all the time, people just cleaned their own homes and tipped their waste into the surrounding waste piles which grew day by day until they were like waste hills surrounding our community.
Come the rainy season, the nearby pond would overflow, entrain the loose waste, and bring all of our collective garbage back to us. Other than complaining to the local administration and hoping that they would solve our problem, we never made any substantial commitment to change our circumstances.
Over the last twenty years, we, as Indians, have congratulated ourselves for developing and raising our standard of living. We have achieved things like a literacy rate of 75%, increasing access to education and producing lakhs of professionals including doctors, engineers, advocates, and chartered accountants.
Yet, 14 of the top 15 most-polluted cities in the world are Indian. Things have gotten so bad that Delhi and its satellite cities have ordered school shutdowns at pollution peaks, and breathing their air is equivalent to smoking 44 cigarettes a day by particulate count.
Because it is easy to get lost in our careers, our commitments to immediate family and friends and other activities, we forget that all of us possess the power to bring positive or negative change through our own actions. Can I reuse my Sprite bottles? Do I need fans running in three rooms when I only occupy one at a time? Can I fix my leaky faucets? Can I walk to the store instead of driving my car?
Think of the collective impact we can all have if we start implementing these simple things.