After a break of almost two months I started to scribble again. I had been to India for a month. It was a hectic holiday. I went with my kids to my native Tanjore. I was there for a month and I had a chance to attend right from birth to funeral. I was sooo busy. My kids got soooo bored because "they had nothing to do". It was not their territory. Out of all the complaints they had , the most repeated one was "India is dirty", "People shit over in all places." "People in India need to be toilet trained"---this is my son's suggestion.
I was trying to defend my mother country when they told it was boring, no friends, no entertainment etc. etc. etc. But when they complained about the cleanliness I couldn't defend my country in anyways. I wondered how I had managed to live there for so many years closing my eyes to all this. After having lived outside India for 14 years I am not able to tolerate the sight of public places being used as toilets. I don't wish my kids to grow up in such an environment. By God's grace I have been having an alternative--to live outside. But how about the people who are living there. Are they not aware of the problem? They are but they have no other choice. Even in schools there is no proper toilet facility. Even if they have toilets no water. Children naturally learn the "water the trees" habit. Since they get used to urinate under the trees when young, they don't feel ashamed to do it when they grow old.
Indians as such are known for being shy. When compared to other parts of the world we are the ones who cover our body fully(I know --"gone are those days ") but when it comes to "toilet training" we are "free birds--shameless." (We are democratic) We are from a country where when a baby is born we try our best not to use diapers because it will affect the baby's skin. We take extra care to wash the nappy cloth and dry them in hot sun . But as we grow older why are we not bothered about the hygiene?
I happened to travel from Tanjore to Chennai by train. When the train was approaching Chennai it was early morning. I wanted to feel the fresh air and enjoy the sun rise. I went and stood near the door. Even the word "disgusting" cannot explain how I felt when I stood there. There were people of all ages using the area near the railway tracks as toilets. They were shamelessly sitting there and waving their hands. I couldn't stand the scene. I went and sat in my seat. I was not able to open the windows even. The stench was sooooo bad and nauseating. Streets, sidewalks, platforms, outside the compound walls of houses, offices everywhere you can see tracks of urine. You feel your sandals should be disinfected once you get home. This is the scene in every part of the country. Be it a state capital, city,town, village anything. Public places are used as toilets without any hesitation.
Is it because we are not educated about this in schools? All school books teach about hygiene. Then why is this happening in India? When we ask people they say there are no public toilets available. Even if they are available there is no water. Ok agreed. But this cannot justify their actions. Can't a grownup learn to control the nature's call? Won't a person feel shameful to use the public places as toilets in front of others? It is so embarrassing for the passersby to witness such scenes. We have to close our eyes ,nose and mouth when we cross such scenes and places. I feel using the public places as toilets is a barbaric act. Are we not civilized? We call our culture to be thousands of years old. Does this mean that even this habit is thousand years old that we cant change? WE have moved from bullock carts to rockets. But we have not changed this disgraceful habit. It doesnt' matter whether the person is educated or uneducated he feels free to answer the nature's call in public. When a minister happens to visit a place then all the main streets (only) through which his car will pass will be cleaned and sprayed with disinfectant and bleaching powder. Irrespective of the fact that he doesn't even bother to get down on those streets. May be because his car tires shouldn't get dirty??
"Toilet training" should be taught to all from young age. It is not only they are polluting the places but also spreading so many infectious diseases because of this. When it rains all human waste from streets get mixed up with the rain water and runs through streets . They mix up with the drinking water sources thus causing cholera and diahorreah. Tapeworms , ringworms get into our body easily. Children who play in the sand get infected easily. People should be made to understand about personal hygiene. The government must strictly pass a law prohibiting the use of public places as toilets. I saw a few boards outside some compounds which said , "ONLY DOGS URINATE HERE." Still the places were sprayed.
People should be taught to feel ashamed to use public places as toilets. They should be taught to keep themselves and the surroundings clean. When the environment is clean you feel nice and good . Already we have so many industrial wastes, hospital wastes, factory wastes, polluting our land. Human waste adds fuel to the already existing cause of so many unnamed diseases . When wealth is lost something is lost but when health is lost everything is lost. Right from villages to cities people must be educated about how to avoid being a public nuisance .
These days people from India go on vacation to various parts of the world. When they return to India they proudly speak about the cleanliness of other countries. They say the streets are so clean that you can even spread a leaf and eat food . But when it comes to our own country why is it they don't bother to keep it clean. People who have lived abroad for a few years despise going back to India because of this reason. I have spoken to many of my friends and most of them are concerned about this issue. Especially when you go with your children you expect a cleaner environment. Cleanliness is the major problem which doesn't allow many NRI's to return to India. It is not enough that we appreciate other countries but we should contribute from our side to keep our country clean. The government should work harder to completely wipe out this perennial problem.
In India people are becoming more and more affluent with a growing economy. Malls have sprung up like mushrooms, infrastructure is improving, cars are crawling like worms, restaurants,hotels are being built on everyday basis to cater the needs of the public. People want to be westernized in all walks of life. But they are not able to come out of this basic tendency. A friend of us has a non-profitable organization through which he provides toilet facilities in his village in West Bengal. Facilities can be provided but people should come forward to use them. We are striding towards an economically free India hoping we will become a super power in another 15 years. Along with these if this problem is also taken care then we can soar high. Hope my dreams of cleaner streets and platforms will come true one day. Then our children will love to play in our homeland without hesitation.