we keep Public Places Clean
follow rules. Indians are law-abiding citizens. Indians keep
their homes and surroundings spic and span. Indians don't
throw orange peels or papers from moving vehicles, nor do
they litter public places or spit on the roads.
do all these Indians live? In countries where importance is
given to rules and where norms of community behaviour exist
more in the practice than in the breach. The Indian whose
civic behaviour abroad is exemplary does not think twice about
littering public places once s/he reaches India? Recently
I asked the security-check person in an airport if there was
a dustbin around to deposit the paper in my hand. To my surprise,
he offered to take care of it for me. He took the paper from
my hand and before my very eyes threw it right on the floor!
bother to be responsible when no one around is? The natural
direction of water-flow is downwards. The natural direction
for most behaviour is the accepted and easy way. We keep our
homes clean, and make our streets, parks and playgrounds dirty.
This is a cultural issue. President Naraynan cites Malcolm
Adiseshaiah referring to his mother, "a high born lady
who kept her house spotlessly clean. Every morning she used
to sweep and clean the household herself and then dump the
rubbish in the neighbour's yard."
solving public littering does not require high literacy, technology
or resources. Most of us would follow rules, which are strictly
enforced. If Indians can change their habits abroad, we can
change them here too. First the MCH should provide facilities
like dustbins and trashcans in all public places like parks
and roads and make provisions to have them cleared once or
more everyday. A campaign should be launched to make people
aware of the clean-up drive. In theatres, shopping malls etc
the owners should take responsibility to provide dust bins.
Out of force of habit people may still dump things anywhere
and everywhere. But with trained staff, rules can be enforced.
In apartment complexes nowadays we see statues and portraits
of gods and goddesses in corners to prevent people from spitting.
And it seems to work! A positive note is our prayer places
in recent times are cleaner than they used to be.
public education is launched, and facilities are available
for disposal of litter, strict rules should be framed with
severe penalties for violations, like in Singapore. The fine
is so heavy that nobody dares to throw litter in that little
country. Most of all, we should start frowning on our fellow-citizens
when they transgress the rules. Social pressure does work.
Personal example, peer pressure, public education, and penalties
for transgression - all taken together can easily keep our
public places clean. The initiative should come from MCH and