Global problems, local touch

Human beings are the same everywhere. It becomes very evident if you notice the signs placed at different places. It seems to me that cleanliness is not a quality that one would find in majority of the people, but is something that needs to be forced upon people. If nobody is watching or there is no fear of being penalized (either monetarily or psychologically viz.”what will others think of me”), then the basic human nature seems to be discard waste wherever they create it.

In India, for instance, there is no legal penalty like in Singapore or USA for littering. So you find so much trash strewn around everywhere that one might think that the country is a huge trash bin. For the first time in the history of India, a Prime Minister has stirred the masses to volunteer to clean the country.

PM initiates Clean India movement

You can read the details here. I appreciate the movement but I doubt the efficacy of the message because I doubt that people will change their habits overnight. The funny thing that I have observed is that those Indians, who have visited Singapore and USA, praise the cleanliness of those countries and yet, as soon as they are back in India, they fall back to their old tendency of trashing, which they had to curb abroad due to the fear of being penalized. One will find the walls (and corners of government offices) colored with spit stains of “paan” , corners stinking of pee, trash strewn by the roadside, dirty public toilets and what not, all over the country. And this tendency seems to have gained so much notoriety that in Switzerland, they have put notices in Hindi (and not in any other language) to keep the place clean! I wonder how much more humiliating should it be before the Prime Minister’s call reaches the ears of all my country people and they change their habits.

However, this tendency is not just in India. My observation is that people don’t want to keep public places clean voluntarily even in the developed western countries. So much trash is littered in front of tourist places in Paris. Alright you can say it’s from the tourists coming from all over the world – which again adds weight to my point that people are the same across the globe. I’ve seen enough empty liquor bottles on the streets in Germany to conclude that the problem exists there too.

So my theory is that the issues will be the same wherever humans reside (even if tomorrow we have a colony on the moon!). Just the way the issue is treated may be different. For instance, in Germany, people put up signs and hope that the readers would take heed. In other countries there are penalties and in India, we hope that the masses will follow their leader’s words.


And now, just for fun, see the sign here on the left hand side. It says “Unser Garten ist Kein Hunde-Klo”.

Translation in English is “Our garden is not a dog’s loo”. Clearly, people with dogs have been using this garden to relieve their dogs which made the poor owners resort to putting up a sign. I wonder if it has helped them or not :).Sign in restroom

Similarly on the right hand side, you can see a sign inside a toilet which I can’t even endeavor to spell. Roughly translated, it means,  “use the toilet brush to clean the toilet seat” and the pictures below (which I have cropped for obvious reasons) demonstrate what not to do with the toilet brush. It’s hilarious but points to the same problem as we have everywhere else – not keeping a public place clean!

I sincerely hope that a day will come when these things won’t have to be instructed to adults – anywhere in the world. Children would be brought up with the knowledge about cleanliness and this would become their habit for instance, as brushing their teeth. With that hope in mind, closing this post. Until next, let’s observe ourselves and see our behavior regarding cleanliness inside and outside our homes.


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