When I am walking alone on the streets, or standing at a bus-stop or a train station, I often look at the Mumbai around me and think, what is the one thing that would make this place look like a New York City, or a London, or a Tokyo? More high-rise buildings? More fly-overs and interchanges? Better cars? And then, something glowed like a bulb up my head. Yes, cleaner streets.
You are having a toffee in the middle of the street, and you have the wrapper in your hand now. You don't find a dustbin for like a mile ahead or back. What would you do? Let it slip off your fingers innocently? Many of us would do that, yes. What difference does it make, we would think. The street is dirty as it is, littered with all kinds of stuff, one more tiny wrapper will gel in uncomplainingly; like a drop in the ocean.
We talk of politicians toxifying the nation's reputation with acts of corruption, sportsmen failing to perform; we sit at a coffee table and rip the government off its roots. But to point fingers at others, are we "clean" ourselves? We keep on repeating that we need stricter laws; when is littering going to become an offence?
The most common words said by most people when they return home from an international trip is "These places are so clean!!!" Sometimes it makes me wince, when I think that the finest sanitation systems in the world belonged to our own Indus Valley Civilization. Boy, we've really gone down the drain all these years later!
When every individual makes a conscious effort to remind himself that he can do better than throw a wrapper on the street, only then will we take the tag of litterbugs off our backs. If you are travelling, take a litter-bag with you, or use your own pocket. In trains, people tend to throw tea-cups out of the window saying "Well, there's no dustbin here". In that case, make your own dustbin. Put it in a big plastic bag, and use it for the whole trip. Or dump it in one of the station dustbins on the way. Doing this might seem out-of-the-way, but aren't we Indians already reputed for doing out-of-the-way things to look hip and trendy?
If you have construction work done at your place, clear out the debris. Don't litter the street. Move them at a place where the waste disposal guys can take it away. Pay extra money to get it done; aren't you paying for millions of other useless things, this day and age?
Go ahead. Let's make our city, our state, our country litter-free.