Sunday, February 1, 2009

Journey to a cleaner India

Travelled by the local train in Mumbai after ages . The lack of civic sense coupled with the lack of accessible dustbins at stations , in the train makes for a garbage lined track though most parts of the journey . Some compartments have mesh like grill windows . Intended I suppose for protecting passengers from assaults they were subjected to by objects being flung at the trains . Inadvertently it protects the environment to some extent by making it impossible to throw stuff out through the window .

The apathy of Indians towards public spaces and objects is mind boggling . The lack of civic sense is not limited to train journeys . Folks in autos to expensive cars throw stuff on roads as though it's the most natural thing to do . The apathy extends to corporations too . Outside many retail stores , banks , commercial establishments there are garbage piles of varying degrees .

While driving between cities it's appalling to see the country side littered with plastic bags , paper cups and all sorts of rubbish by travelers . I remember a spot en route from Pondicherry to Chennai . It seemed to be a picnic spot. A group had left their papers plates , cups pretty much intact at the spot . A forensic investigator from Japan would have thought that the entire group was abducted . There would be no other rational explanation for an entire group to leave behind plates and cups as is. 

In many parts of India today there is an urgent need to foster civic sense and a sense of pride in keeping public spaces clean and beautiful . Campaigns on TV , radio , internet , in schools , colleges , public transport vehicles , public spaces , through mobile phones , blogs , newspapers , magazines . Unless citizens are mobilized and amend their behavior a clean India will remain a faraway dream.

To paraphrase the Jaagore campaign......aap raste pe kachra phekhenge to yeh desh kaise saaf hoga ?

Pl help to make and keep our public spaces clean . Your individual resolve and effort matters way more than you think it does. Resist from throwing stuff on the roads / any public space , if you see someone littering a public space do request them to stop , if there is garbage outside retail/food /commercial establishments /stations/ bus depots/residential building then pl take a few minutes to speak with the supervisor / manager of the establishment to request them to install dustbins and to make the effort to keep the area clean . Many retail , food establishments have feedback forms . Pl write on them asking them to keep the area clean. Appreciate those that already do it . And especially those that do so post the feedback/ request. If you run a retail/food/commercial/any establishment pl take the initiative to keep the area clean . Teach children that garbage is meant to be thrown only in dustbins...

Pl choose to make a difference .


Arvind said...

My dear Savitha,

Reading your blog and the mail in which you mention the initiatives that you've taken with your apartment building secretary to start a scholarship or create a place in the building where people can donate stuff, reminded me of a story I receved by mail from the Simple Truths website. I have pasted below an extract from that mail. The mail reads as below:

"Dear Arvind,

It all started with a piece of trash...

Matthew Emerzian, a successful music industry executive in Los Angeles, was walking back to his office with a co-worker one afternoon in 2004 when he stopped to pick up a plastic fountain drink cover from the sidewalk and put it in a nearby garbage bin.

“My co-worker quickly asked me what I was doing,” Emerzian recalled. “I explained what I thought to be the obvious, but apparently I was wrong.” To the co-worker, litter simple belonged to the litterer, not to the population as a whole.

“I explained to him that litter and pollution are everyone's problem not just the person who couldn't find the trash can for their cup lid. He profoundly responded with 'Dude, you're weird.'”

Emerzian, now 38, walked back to his office both angry and sad.

“I couldn't believe that someone could remove themselves so far from the greater good of our world.”

Matt began to think, 'what if everyone in the country picked up one piece of litter on the same day.' Or 10 pieces! The math was easy, yet so powerful. He then began to think of a few other easy things that 300 million Americans could do to make a difference.

From this, a great idea was born. He called his friend, Kelly Bozza, and told her that he wanted to write a book about how all of us can make a difference with our lives. Within a week, they had over 100 items on their list and were ready to start writing.

Their book, titled Every Monday Matters...52 Ways to Make a Difference, has sold 120,000 copies. It is both powerful and thought-provoking. The ideas are simple - small acts that collectively add up to an enormous impact for the greater good. It's 144 pages with lots of illustrations - chocked full of big ideas.

Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Everyone has the power of greatness; not for fame, but greatness. Because greatness is determined by service.”"


Arvind Kaul

Lorient said...

Dear Savitha, thanks for sending this post. however with the recent bomb blast, things have actually gone worse. dustbins have been taken out at important public places including railway stations, malls, what have you. i had to actually remind the airport manager at santacruz domestic airport about the absence of garbage bins outside the domestic airport, as a result of which garbage was being disposed off in open drains, thereby clogging them. we have a convenient way of shirking our responsibilities when it comes to garbage, 26/11just about gave us an more reason to stop caring. i do hope good sense prevails, the question is when?

regards, hector