By Ural Sharma
Lajpat Nagar Central market, (New Delhi): I went to Lajpat Nagar today after ages, in order to shop for a pair of ethnic earrings and chappals, trying to relive my LSR days and also binge on some lip smacking Ram Laddoos , Golgappe and Aunty’s momos.
Although I must admit that neither the chappals were able to fascinate my feet nor the eateries were able to tantalize my taste buds, what did attract my attention was the responsible citizenship demonstrated by two street vendors aka two AAM AADMIs!
While on one hand a man selling bangles by the roadside chided a well educated girl (who must be in her 20s) for throwing away a disposable cup next to his kiosk, on the other hand a bhelpuri wallah caustically drew the attention of his customer to the dustbin when he carelessly flicked the used spoon on the ground.
In the first instance, the girl refused to pick up the trash saying that it was not his house that she had dirtied and she threw the glass because other people had littered the place already. When the bangle seller retorted that it was HIS house indeed, she carried the altercation further, asking him to prove where his name was written.
Ironically, rather than making amends for her folly she chose to provide lame arguments justifying her action and thereafter stomped off! And how convenient we become when mocking the government on Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan being a mere symbolism!
This incident made my thoughts drift back to the time when I served as a teacher in an MCD school as a part of my Teach For India fellowship. While the pathetic plight of government schools is a fact well known and needs no elaboration, what really needs to be highlighted is the vehemence with which any attempt to improve that plight is resisted.
My Principal had once blasted me for covering an extremely filthy looking door with a curtain in order to make the classroom more aesthetically pleasing for my students. When I tried to explain my point of view she retaliated saying that this was not my home.
“It’s an MCD school. MCD schools are supposed to be dirty. Jo jaisa hai rehne do. Zyaada MCD ko badalne ki koshish mat karo!”
These kinds of incidents are a grim reminder of the attitude which we have internalized that public places are meant to be dirty and what needs to be kept clean is only one’s own house.
That’s where one’s duty ends. I wonder when will, WE, the people of India, begin to consider our entire country as an integrated whole- our HOMEland and start making attempts to nurture it in the same way as we do our homes.
(The author is a New Delhi based social activist. This article was written exclusively for NewsGram.)