Walking down a clean street (a rare site in India now), a girl, probably from a well-off family (as her clothing suggested), carelessly threw a packet of eaten wafers on the ground. At that time, that one small packet didn’t make much of a difference in the aesthetic value of that otherwise clean and beautiful street. A few minutes later, another lone traveler was seen walking down the same street. He held a can of soft drink in his hand (probably empty since he wasn’t drinking out of it). He threw that can exactly where that girl before has thrown the wrapper. Now two pieces of trash were lying on the street, still not a disturbing site. Five hours later, a relatively visible heap of garbage was lying on the same spot. One week later, due to the generosity of the travelers and the kind negligence of the municipal corporation, that street is almost unidentifiable. Nothing beautiful about it anymore. The same girl (the first one), when walked past the same street a few days later made a concerned comment on the carelessness of our government and how our country can never get out of this filthiness that is displayed shamelessly on our streets. This is the sad story of most of the dirty, stinky streets in our country. We blame our government, we blame our neighbors, we blame the municipal corporation, in fact, blame everybody else except ourselves for the pathetic condition of our country’s cleanliness. But how many of you out there has been the first girl I just told you about. How easy to shift the burden of error on somebody else and then curse them for the same. It is perhaps time we start reflecting on our deeds.
Our rich, flamboyant culture is another reason for this remarkable condition of our country’s cleanliness. Yes! Here in India, people have a thing for cleanliness and beauty. We keep ourselves clean beyond necessity. For that, we even go the extent of taking bath twice or thrice in a day. We keep our homes even cleaner because we believe that gods and goddesses reside only in clean homes. But, we don’t give a damn to the place that falls outside the ambit of our homes. We believe that everything in our home that we do not need belongs to the streets outside and hence show no hesitation in transferring it to its appropriate place (according to us). This one news caught me off guard: Bangalore in 2002, instituted this door-to-door trash pickup service, probably looking forward to initiating a cleanliness program in India. But people would still throw it on the street side dumb. Why? It is because garbage in India is considered to be a threat to personal dignity and status. People would go out and throw it the street that let it stay at their doors waiting to be picked up by the municipal corporation. It is funny how we in India on one hand crave development and when it comes knocking on our doors, we kick it on its butt and throw it out of our lives.
Now perhaps, I would like to divert your attention from the unbearable sight of these garbage dumps to the real harms that they bring in our lives. These open garbage dumps act as excellent homes for millions of rodents, mosquitos, and other insects. And they are the primary reason for spreading of diseases like malaria, dengue fever and other deadly diseases that these beings cause. Beside this, we know that a majority of Indian population gets its drinking water from underground sources. We are also aware that even after treatment of the ground water, some germs and harmful particles remains in it. Garbage dumps add to that burden. How? This happens because these garbage dumps, often damp due to lying in the open result in the sweeping in of harmful chemicals and toxins beneath the surface of the earth to mix with the ground water. Our excellent tendency to not separate different types of garbage waste adds fuel to the fire. In fact, these toxic waste that are thrown along with the regular waste causes huge harm to the air too. They easily escape and mix in the air making it quite poisonous to breathe. Apart from that these street animals very conveniently move around munching this garbage like delicacies. This toxic material if consumed by animals can be extremely dangerous and might even lead to death. But what does that even mean to our cleanliness loving population that is so hell bent on protecting their status?
I wonder if I am asking too much from our dear citizens by saying that perhaps we need to give a more concerned thought to this problem. I fail to understand that why people ignore this threat and continue to go on with the same habits. I want to tell my dear readers that there is no better time to start taking this garbage problem seriously and acting to solve it. And the good part of it is that you do not even have to do so much. Just try to maintain separate dustbins at home for different types of waste. One for dry waste like plastic and all, one for organic waste like vegetable peels and one for the chemical materials like a battery, old medicines and things like that. Not too much to ask for I believe in the exchange of a safe, healthy life? You might have to spend a few bucks to buy so many dustbins, but I suppose it is worth it. Apart from your home, just show a little more concern to your surroundings too. Please don’t throw things here and there, not even on a heap of garbage that already lies on the street. It is good if you were not the first one to initiate that dumb, but try not be a developer of it too. Lastly, just let go of those practices in your culture that causes harm to the life of you and those around you. We need to understand that culture in a stagnant institution and resists growth. But we have to grow and make our lives better, right? So let there be changes that our good and make this world a little more livable for everyone.