In the month of January, I visited the office of a Multinational organization in Chennai and found the premises spick n span. Floor of the building was shining incandescently and housekeeping of the building was near perfect. This is how the office of a Multinational organization should look like without an iota of doubt.
Cafeteria was also very clean and interiors were nicely done, eating area was clearly segregated from the serving area and people serving the food were well dressed and wore gloves and Chef hats, which are designed to prevent hair from falling into the food while cooking but one peculiar line which caught my eye and can be a source of major embarrassment for all the employees of that organization and for us Indians in general was the one written on the top of the wash basin which had state of the art faucet installed.
“Do not put waste food in the wash basin” I found it intriguing, it was not the first time that I noticed something like this, I have seen it written in public toilets. People in India are not averse to throw their unused food in train toilets or on the pavements while travelling. Probably most of the litter which is strewn around on pavements is the waste food which is generated. It is not uncommon to find paan-stained wash basin and muck-filled toilets in our country. Rather it is taken as a source of pride to chew paan and spit it on the roads or on the wash basins and public urinals.
So what is it that make us Indians behave the way we do in Public. Office of a multinational organization where in some of the most educated people of the country work has to write it “Do not put waste food in the wash basin”. Does it mean that we Indians are apathetic about our hygiene or hygiene of our surroundings? Do the most educated people in our country need to be taught not to throw garbage in wash basins. So much for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Our Prime Minister has been screaming from ramparts of Red fort to keep the country clean, so many campaigns have been launched to segregate garbage. Here our Government is trying to educate us on the nuances of segregating dry garbage, wet garbage, sanitary waste and hazardous waste but we are still stuck in the medieval period. It seems old habits die hard and that is precluding us from adopting basic hygiene factors.
First of all, to waste food is a sin as per our culture and in countries like Germany, Norway, Denmark and in some other Scandinavian countries it is almost treated as a crime to waste the food but here in our country food wastage is simply condoned. Rather wastage of food is seen as a sign of opulence. Whenever we pay obeisance to our Gods food is mandatory and where does all that food go could be anybody’s guess. Food wastage is a topic in itself which I will be dealing with separately but this ostentatious display of wealth primarily by wasting food and throwing it in sewers is surely not the right way.
We are living a country where we have serious issues with regard to handling of garbage and that is exactly the reason why all these campaigns like clean India have been launched in our country.
So many awareness campaign related to Swachhta or cleanliness which have been launched but with little impact. All these campaigns and exhortations have fallen on deaf ears. We are still using anachronistic ways for waste management. Can’t we simply take what we have to eat in our plates so that balance amount of food can be utilized elsewhere. Secondly let us pledge to resolve that from today onwards we will not throw any uneaten food in public spaces. The unused food is choking the basins and the pipes and also rotting our entire system and leads to more garbage being created.
If we start adopting these basic rules at least in our work places it will go a long way in waste management issues. India generates 150 million tons of waste in a day and most of it is left in the landfills at the city outskirts leaving a stinking smell and vultures hovering over heaps of hazardous material.
Only 10-20 per cent of the city waste is recycled in an environment-friendly way and the rest is allowed to lie in the landfills. There are a lot of people engaged in cleaning of our public spaces and our offices but it is our responsibility to keep our surroundings clean. Let’s put our garbage where it is supposed to go. As responsible and educated citizens of this country this is the least we can do. Putting waste food in wash basins is certainly not the way to go.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by the author are personal.
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