While everyone is thinking that India is surging ahead and will soon be a country of great economic prosperity the view from my window tells me that it will never be that.
Days after the cyclone that hit Pondicherry there was a huge pile of garbage that collected in front of my house and no one came to remove it. Days went by and it just got bigger. I ran from person to person asking them to do something. I was very intrigued to see that municipal workers were actually coming but the pile got bigger until I realised that they were bringing garbage from elsewhere and dumping them on the pavement opposite my house. There are no front doors on that pavement and my neighbours feel they can throw their garbage in front of someone’s backdoor and along that entire pavement.
Finally, a call to the municipal contractor who is in charge of our area brought a small group of women in their uniforms who picked up only a small part of the huge pile and left.
The next day a tractor came and instead of picking up the garbage the two men who had come switched on their FM radio and listened to Bollywood songs in full blast and rested in the shade. When they left they picked up a very small part of the rotting pile. Women from my neighborhood, in their shining saris and heavy gold necklaces, came one after the other to throw their vegetable peels and the empty cartons of cereals on the hill of garbage that had started stinking. They gave me a blank look when I told them that they should throw their garbage in the bin provided further up the road.
A friend gave me the phone number of the municipal commissioner and when I called him he asked me to give a complaint in writing. He must have called up the concerned contractor and pulled him up because within a couple of hours the entire pavement was cleaned. There wasn’t even a piece of paper there. For three weeks I couldn’t open my front door because of the stench from the piling up garbage right in front and it was only after complaining to the highest officer that I managed to get that cleared.
There is enough money for garbage collectors to listen to FM radio and housewives to wear gold necklaces that weigh half a kilo but there is no awareness that garbage cannot be thrown on pavements which are supposed to be for people to walk on. Most of all there is no courtesy towards a neighbour.
Just having money doesn’t change anything. Ignorance is the greatest poverty.