Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Natural Obligation Towards Cleanliness

I had just left the shop with my purchased goods and was on the road. Ahead of me, two teenage boys opened their chocolate bars they had just purchased. Popping the toffees into their mouths, they nonchalantly dropped the toffee wrappers where they belonged--on the road. There was not even a consideration if there were any dustbins around. Not that there were.


This is India. I doubt such behavior would be acceptable in any developed country. Singapore is said to impose a fine on anybody who litters or spits on the road-about $25 for the first offence. If that fine was instituted in India, it would be a major source of revenue to the government. We Indians feel obliged to present the bleakest, dirtiest picture of ourselves to the visitors from the outside world.


Jokes apart, we act as if we do not have an obligation towards cleanliness. I understand the citizens of the developed world may be sincere about keeping their surroundings clean, but I'm not sure if they show the same commitment towards a clean environment. If they had, they would have insisted on green vehicles, green energy, green construction-green everything. The research in solar power is limping along, mainly because there  is no serious demand in the market. The main obstacle they say, is the economy and fuel efficiency aspect. If it were possible to reduce the size of computers from one occupying an entire floor of 167.3 sq m (1800 sq. ft.) area (the ENIAC) and it could be scaled down to a laptop that you can hold in your lap, if you can successfully send men to the Moon and bring them back safely, why is it not possible to improve the efficiency of solar converters?


The human race has not realised its obligation to the environment, to nature. We do not realise that we are receiving from nature all the time-food, air, water, living space, and other basic resources.


And we want it clean-nobody wants food or water that is unclean. But it doesn't matter that we leave a clean environment, in return.


This is a paradox of human nature, of counting only our rights and not our obligations. I have to say our materialistic philosophy based exclusively on profit making is the culprit here.


We do not try to think of what consequences there can be. Man is a part of nature, if he destroys her, he destroys himself. Its like sawing off the tree branch on which one is sitting.


It is time for us to wake up to this reality that we cannot exist separate from nature, that nature is our own source and destination--one whom we can rightfully call our Mother.
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