I was standing on a crowded railway platform of one of the railway stations of Mumbai to board a train to my hometown. A train halted at the platform and several people from the crowd rushed to board the train. In some time the train started to move. As the train was moving I could see the faces of everyone sitting by the window. My eyes fell on a girl who must be in her early 20s. She was holding a piece of paper in her hand. She crumbled it and threw it out of the window. The paper fell on the railway platform just a few steps in front of me.
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I wanted to walk up to her to explain to her why she should not litter around. But I could not board her train as I’d to board another train in some time and the train that she was in was anyway moving.
After some time a man approached me to enquire about the schedule of a train. I told him whatever I knew about what he wanted to know. He stood next to me for a minute and then removed a tiny piece of paper that he flicked away onto the railway tracks. Before I could tell him something he walked away.
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In a few minutes I boarded the train that I was supposed to board. I was carrying a small plastic bottle of water with me. When I emptied it I started to look for a dustbin in the train. A man saw me and he told me that I can think of keeping India clean some other day, today I should just throw the bottle out of the window. I didn’t say anything to him and kept looking for a dustbin. After disposing the bottle in a dustbin, I walked up to him to tell him that if I keep delaying then India will never be clean. I asked him to count the number of people who would’ve littered around thinking that they can clean India someday else. He told me that sometimes you cannot find a dustbin and so it’s fine if you litter. I told him that I was looking for a dustbin to throw a plastic bottle. If I could carry the bottle until it had water in it, I can also carry it with me until I come across a dustbin. Soon the conversation changed its course and we started to talk about other things. He later told me that he’s a Lecturer at a college. So, a Lecturer was teaching me to litter around. That’s something that should be noted.
Two men were playing cards in the train. One of them stood up to spit on the passage between two compartments. I wish I could stop him before he’d done that.
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Once when I was returning to Mumbai from my hometown in a bus, I bought a few packets of chips from a store. After eating the chips, I kept the empty wrappers in a polythene bag instead of throwing them outside the window. A couple was sitting next to me. They too were eating chips. All the while I kept looking at their packet of chips because I knew that the moment it would get empty, they would throw it out of the window. When they were throwing the packet out of the window I stopped them and asked them to give the empty packet to me instead. I kept the packet along with my empty packets of chips.
The dirty streets of India are the outcome of our habits. Many of us fail to foresee the consequences of our actions. For India to change, the habits of Indians should change. I do not know what exactly can be done to change the habits of people but I’m sure that one thing alone cannot change the habits of all. Different actions would’ve to be taken at different levels at different times.
I returned to Mumbai from my hometown in a bus even today. When the man sitting next to me was throwing a piece of paper outside the window, I made him throw it in a polythene bag that I had with me.
India will not stay clean if just a few people change their habits. We’ll have to change everyone’s habit. Therefore, the next time I see someone littering around, instead of standing by and watching them litter, I’ll politely make them understand why they should not litter around. I’ll advice my readers to do the same.
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I often lecture my friends on why they should not litter around and thus, whenever one of my friends litter, my other friends ask me to lecture them. But, instead of lecturing the one who littered I lecture the one who ask me to lecture. I tell them that the streets of India do not belong to me alone and therefore, I should not alone be responsible to keep the streets clean and to make others keep the streets clean. I ask them to lecture the ones who litter instead of asking me to do so.
It’s time that we realize that we all have to do our part in order to keep our streets clean. It’s not the responsibility of an individual or a set of individuals to keep the streets clean; it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the streets clean.
Let’s do our bit to keep our world clean.