Loving your country is a lot like loving your spouse. It is complicated. You get mad at him for responding honestly to your query about whether your grey hair is noticeable. But you wouldn’t be too pleased if he flattered to deceive. Honesty is a damnable thing because you are damned if you do and doubly damned if you don’t but according to some famous white and therefore indubitably wise dude, honesty is the best policy especially if money and the future is at stake. Which means, you have to be truthful, even if it makes people accuse you of being anti – national and ask you to remove yourself to a hostile neighbouring nation we play the occasional cricket match with and make a killing via jacked – up ticket prices but not before inundating you with death threats. Of course, I am spared all this because barring a few bots who can’t be bothered to bicker with me, nobody cares about my carping.
Therefore, I can complain about an oft ignored issue that has rendered our country grotesque. India is not just an EYESORE but an EXCRESCENCE upon the face of this planet. Of course, this nation is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, but we have only Indians to blame for literally crapping over it and begriming the bounties of Mother Earth with our disgraceful tendency to prioritize godliness and just about everything else over cleanliness and making a godawful mess.
Of the millions of tonnes of garbage India generates, precious little is segregated, treated, and responsibly disposed. Carelessly discarded trash that does not choke up every inch of available public space ends up in hastily erected dumps conveniently close to slums where they become the problem of the poor. The responsibility for dealing with detritus rests on rag pickers who receive no formal training and no safety equipment to protect themselves from hazardous wastes and safeguard their health. Indiscriminate burning in these sites causes pollution and the cancer – causing smoke which lingers thickly in the vicinity for days is a menace. A lot of the debris is discharged into sewers, drains and rivers poisoning our water and food.
A majority of the populace has no concept of waste management that requires you to reduce, reuse and recycle. There are too few dustbins for public use and even these are always overflowing. Worst of all, are the citizens who are forever littering, spitting, pissing, and defecating wherever they please. Our government has introduced solid waste management rules and apparently there is improvement in door – to - door collection of garbage, measures have been implemented to install waste processing and recycling plants, convert landfills to parks and preserve our water bodies but there is a lot more that needs to be done for stricter enforcement of hygiene measures over and above the nattering about Swachh Bharat by celeb types on social media. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time before India is submerged in a sea of sewage.
This article was originally published in The New Indian Express.