01/01/2015 8:09 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

For Want Of A Swachh Bharat

PRAKASH SINGH via Getty Images
A macaque monkey searches for eatables at a dustbin in New Delhi on January 14, 2014. Thousands of monkeys live on the rooftops of downtown Delhi. Despite being considered a nuisance they cannot be killed because many Indians consider them sacred. AFP PHOTO/Prakash SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

A couple of months back, while going home in a bus, I did not get a seat so I stood holding the supporting metal bar beside a seat. A co-passenger sitting near the window was busy munching on potato chips. After she finished eating the chips she threw the packet out of the window. Some 15 minutes later, her stop arrived, and while she was getting down she went past me. I could not stop myself from asking her, "Do you eat like this at home too and throw the cover wherever you are sitting?" to which she replied, "None of your business."... I just smiled back at her. This incident happened months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, so no there is correlation whatsoever.

Every other day I see this happening, passengers eating orange or banana and then throwing the peel out of the window, eating roasted peanut and throwing the shell out of the window. These people probably think it is the duty of the Government to keep the roads clean and not theirs.

Even at bus stops where there are dustbins, people just throw chips, or biscuit, or chocolate wrappers all over the place. Once I showed a lady that there is dustbin to which she said, "Everyone is throwing wrappers around, why do you have a problem?" then rushed away.

I persisted in my mission to question people every time I saw someone throwing garbage out of the bus window, and I did succeed a couple of times in stopping them. I managed to stop a female software engineer from throwing a banana peel on the road and asked her to keep it in a plastic bag she was carrying. Another time a college-going girl agreed to keep the biscuit wrapper in the side zip of her bag instead of throwing it out of the window.

This lack of cleanliness or abysmal level of ignorance can be seen all around, not just at bus stops or railway stations, it is prevalent everywhere. In my colony, many are not ready to pay Rs. 40 per month to the garbage collector, instead they prefer throwing garbage at any of the nearest vacant plot. The irony is, every morning these people sweep in front of their gates and put muggulu (floral decoration done on the floor using limestone powder) without fail, and the very same people do not mind throwing garbage in a vacant plot located beside their house!

We live in a private residential colony around four kilometres from the Defence Lab Quarters, Hyderabad. The road from there to my house used to be one of the cleanest and beautiful stretches of road till ten years ago. I say beautiful because, 50 per cent of the stretch is lined with trees on both sides, the branches at the top are entangled creating a green umbrella and in the spring the road gets covered with a sheet of yellow flowers. But today, it has been turned into one of the ugliest stretches, thanks to the hundreds of residential units that have come up on both sides of the stretch.

For every 1km, one can find a 300-metre-stretch of garbage dump yard, which is not only an eyesore but also stinks like hell, it has robbed the area of its pleasant morning and evening breeze, which one could feel earlier.

It makes me wonder why people have such double standards about cleanliness. Why do people need a celebrity to tell them to keep their surroundings clean? Do people wait every day to hear from Priyanka Chopra or Aamir Khan before cleaning their houses? I'm sure that's not the case, then why do they need someone's push to keep their city clean?

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