6th October, 05
Congratulations for the courage shown by you and Maxwell
Pereira on his enlightening article 'No Dirty Hands, please'.
He has also rightly called India as a large toilet. The
first man to do so was V.S. Naipaul, who was criticized
no end, which made him mellow and faint-heartedly he stopped
being critical. I seriously think that we are the dirtiest
in the whole world. A few months ago I was in Istanbul,
and I found it such a pleasant sight. The Bosphorus and
the bridges spanning Asia and Europe are an added attraction.
Every road, every park, every taxi, every eating-house
are spotlessly clean. In fact Turkey is one of the few
countries in which cleanliness is considered a virtue
and it finds mention in books.
It is normally perceived by us that Africa is not clean.
But as an experienced traveller I can say that the whole
of Africa with the exception of Nigeria is very clean.
It is quite strange that the presence of so much religion
in both India and Nigeria has done nothing to keep the
countries tidy. In the late 1970s Victoria Island in Lagos
was marvellous, but today most buildings are becoming
dilapidated and the roads full of filth and debris.
South Africa is an entirely different story. Any visitor
who has been along the famous 'Garden Route Tour' will
testify to the fact that this 5-day trip is one of the
most pleasurable and no filthy stretch meets the eye.
Natural green forests and games parks are seen aplenty.
The roads are so beautiful that going at 150 kph is no
big deal. The resorts on the way add pleasure to the trip.
In Pretoria on a Saturday afternoon I was standing in
the balcony and what do I see- two young well-dressed
boys are walking along on either sides of the street.
On the shoulders of both are hanging white bags, and the
boys are holding white sticks at the ends of which are
spikes with which they were picking any paper or leaf
or small rag, which may have remained on the road after
the vacuum cleaning.
You must encourage such brave writings and help our country
to come out of the dirt and filth, which so far we have
perpetuated. Rivers in other countries are scenic and
the banks littered with good eating houses, clubs and
sports facilities. Our Yamuna in India can only shame
us. We do not have a single river, which flows all the
time thanks to the continuous silting and the regular
Maxwell's examples of not cleaning our hands are very
meaningful and should be taken seriously. Our dirty habits
are the root causes of the innumerable sickness cases
in our country. I cannot understand why anyone should
be told to be clean. In Europe any child removing a chocolate
wrapper will put it in his pocket. In India he will feel
proud to litter the road. Spitting anywhere is yet one
of our great habits. Singapore has on the spot heavy fines
even for throwing a cigarette butt. We have many laws
but no enforcement.
37, Rajpur Road