I usually am a very peppy and optimistic person, some of my friends are also kind of tired of the eternal optimism of the perfect world that I carry along with me. So you know when I say that we don’t deserve to be tourists, I am not cribbing. It takes a great amount of heartbreak for me to state something like that.
I recently went for a vacation to our very popular and often visited tourist destination – Shimla-Manali. This wasn’t my first visit there. I love those mountains and the serenity that they provide. You just want to float in the dream like ambiance that it offers being irrelevant and tranquil. The towns offer so much love in their scenic and natural splendor that is why they are such popular tourist’s destinations.
Indian families now have the money and the access for tourism. They holiday and travel for pleasure, unlike a few decades ago when travel was restricted to places of worship. Now the real heartbreak, although we as Indians have collectively started earning more and give importance to family vacations, I have realized, after this trip, is that we don’t deserve it. We don’t deserve to be tourists because we don’t have the civic sense and the responsibility of being a good tourist.
It was cringing to see the amount of plastic wrapper, bottles and other non-biodegradable waste that was strewn around in the most visited places. Right under where one would park their vehicles. We don’t deserve to be tourists because we don’t have the sense of preserving what we have. Sadly the people who cant keep their own streets clean are further ruining the places they visit for vacation. Because they are far more disconnected from these places, so they wouldn’t care.
My question to myself and the society as a whole is where we are going wrong. I do appreciate the existing government’s initiative with the ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan’, however, it seems to be falling into deaf ears.
One of the worst things I noticed is this one woman telling her 3 year old to throw the candy floss wrapper on the very ground she was standing despite a garbage bin being 10 feet away at Kufri. Can we start with telling our children that the very ‘tourist’ destinations that they travel need to be kept as clean as we keep our homes and our streets.
Simple steps to avoid littering:
- Carry a designated garbage bag when you are traveling. Any polythene bag that can be folded and kept in your pocket/purse/bag/car.
- Retain wrappers/empty bottles till you find the next garbage can. You will be surprised by India is now equipped with many at convenient distances.
- Hold on to the litter until you reach home and dispose it off at the garbage bin at home
These are simple steps and very doable in our daily lives. Please follow these have a clean environment and a clean conscience.
Can we pledge to teach our children about cleanliness and encourage them to teach their peers about cleanliness so that somehow this voice reaches many more ears? Can we also pledge that no matter what we will behave in India the way we behave abroad and not take our land for granted? We should keep it clean and safe. Even if we cannot take large steps to save Mother Nature, we can at least inculcate some good habits in out children. Teach our drivers and our maids. We can, in whatever little capacity, have the capability of making a positive change.
- Srushti Rao
- February 28, 2017
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