Thinking Clean & Green

Today is Earth Day, where thousands worldwide are doing their bit to raise awareness on the issue of environmental protection. Here is a  photo-story by our guest blogger and avid photographer Ambuj Dixit who graphically narrates our contribution to civic pollution and recommends simple things that we can do to ensure  cleaner and greener environment.  Ambuj shares his concerns and unconventional insights on the causes of civic pollution. Through a series of photos he explores how we need to give up the spectator seat, and understand our own role as perpetrators of civic pollution.


I don’t like noise…and more so if it is being created unnecessarily. Honking, thus obviously becomes a matter of great dislike. I am not sure if anyone likes their eardrums being subjected to hole-making high decibel frequency in them.

Maybe, my hunch is wrong and people like it. Honking on Indian roads only seems to increase.

This obsession with anti-honking has let me to observe it more closely over the years. Observation led to insights and insights led to more insights. Slowly before I could notice it, the insights started making sense for all forms of behaviours we see on the street and in the public domain.

Since I started the note with my disliking to noise, I would limit the discussion to the topic of pollution and more of civic aspect of it instead of industrial aspect.

I found that the problem is deeply related to our self-respect and indifference (to one’s own betterment). We have lost the feeling that what we are polluting is OUR country.  Our country seems to be limited to our homes. The sense of ownership is lost and it is like this across levels of society. Disregard towards simple rules, inflated egos, one-upmanship, etc are all manifestations of these two factors.

In the pages next, I have captured the reasons that lead to pollution. In my view these are the major reasons as to why we have become comfortable with the idea of pollution around us. The list is not exhaustive but includes major reasons.

I have tried my best not to show pictures of polluted places. Polluted places are not the challenge. Civic pollution by itself is not a major problem. It can be tackled well, if we take care of our attitude based issues.

I also have a few suggestions on how we can improve the same. Please feel free to criticize, add to the suggestions.

One more thing – we all are party to it, including myself. So while going through the pictures, if you feel that you are not a party to it or it is someone else’s doing it, please challenge that thought. I am sure each one of us will come up with thoughts where we can improve our habits or take the ownership to improve something.

I would term chaos as a form of pollution as it instills confusion amongst the people participating in that chaos. On roads, in India, it is visible everywhere; not following rules and breaking them at our convenience is the first reason of existing pollution across the country. So what is the challenge? The chaos is not the challenge, the impatience, may be the sense of power that one feels with the utter disregard of rules, the famous ‘chalta hai’ attitude are the challenges.

Imagine if we follow the rules and have trust that others will follow the same; sound pollution at almost all the traffic junctions will be solved. Can you feel quietness at the traffic signal? Relieving and relaxing isn’t it?

 

 

But why do we indulge in breaking those simple rules which are meant to make our lives simple and easy? Why don’t we respect the rules that are made to respect our right of living in a‘pollution free society’?

Does it mean we don’t respect ourselves? Yes.

Lack of self respect is a major reason of pollution. We decide to stay in unclean surroundings, we choose to ignore if someone throws a wrapper or a polythene on a road, outside the window…instances are many. If we don’t stand up for our respect and dignity, do you think we will rise for the respect for all?

In these pictures, people are hanging out of a bus. A little slip and a person will be disabled for life or lose life. If we don’t respect and value our life then, everything else becomes a big question.

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Our life is our own. No one is going to live it for us. Thus, committing ourselves to a respectful life by valuing it is the first step towards it. With that decision, comes a responsibility.  Responsibility of doing that helps us take ownership of our actions. In the picture below, it seems our own safety is someone else’s responsibility.

 

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Beauty is an important parameter of defining pollution. After all, nature bestowed us with tremendous beauty. Thus, any deviation that we make should be evaluated carefully.  We have made a lot of deviations and left them mid way unattended. We have ditched our own sense of duty and beauty. Discipline is crucial to beauty.

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Each one of us is a born sinner and moving towards sainthood. Thus learning in our life is very crucial. Good learning in childhood lasts long just like stories told by our grandmothers go with us to graves.

Children are not being taught and groomed properly irrespective of the social hierarchy one belongs to.

So later on if one doesn’t know that garbage is not a place to live and find books in but to be c

leaned, the person should not be blamed later for finding treasures in it.

Grooming and training during childhood plays a far more crucial role than one can imagine. Think about it and you will get a lot of clues for yourself.

Also, did you just think that money means, a socially responsible upbringing?

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This will set a vicious circle in motion which will not let right learning permeate between generations.  Bad habits and confusion will transcend generations.

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Which will lead to and has already led to a scattered society, where one’s habits gives problems to others. Thus, the reaction that is to break away from people and be lost in confusion.

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Where we will blame someone else for our own problems and will feel that it is someone else’s responsibility to clean the muck we have created. We will willingly reduce ourselves to spectators, as we will think that it is someone else’s actions that is causing the pollution, not knowing (or may be ignoring) that others are thinking the same about us.

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Actions that have made polluting agents an integral part of our life.

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Since we are thinking less as a community and more as an individual, we are competing more on whatever is considered luxury and decorate that is suppose to kill us in the long run – the manufactured beauty. Dispose it off irresponsibly too.

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To keep ourselves safe we will invest our thoughts and efforts in the symptom and not the cause

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Not putting a thought on why does the chaos exists, not questioning why and what? Maybe somewhere we know that the buck will stop at us. And who wants ownership if it comes with a responsibility.

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But until how long it is possible to just limit ourselves to our small spaces and shove the problem from our door to someone else’s door

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Shutting ourselves from the world and pretend that problem doesn’t exist.

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Trying to be happy in mis-defined priorities.

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Instead of doing something, being happy in daily mundane talks and ignoring what really is a problem (even it is pushing itself in our nose)

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And more importantly ACCEPTING it as part of our lives and killing our thought each day.

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Where our motivation for victory has been wrongly packaged.

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It has become part of our subconscious. Just like gadgets and mobile phone have become part of children’s life, our polluting habits now seem normal to us.

When spiritualism that is suppose to preserve nature and remind us of our responsibility of keeping it clean has not remain untouched, the  indications are that what we see is not the problem, but the very mind where the thoughts are emerging that are leading to the problem – in this case ‘pollution’

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Recommendations

  1. No matter how bad a situation is each one of us can do a little. After all each one of us share some part of ownership and responsibility. I think we can easily do the following
  2. Reduce our own / family’s pollution quotient –reducing usage of plastic / polythenes; opting for more recycling based options; trying to fix things rather than throwing them quickly
  3. Object or help if you see someone littering a public place – no I am not asking to pickup fights. The recommendation is to offer help by saying, “please give it to me, I will throw it in a dustbin”. Or just suggesting to people if you see hem littering – “willn’t it be a better t throw it in a dustbin”. Try it; you might be surprised with the response.
  4. Engaging more with children – more so if we can engage with children from various economic circles. May be spend 2-3 hours in a week with children and engage with them on the topic of pollution. Continuity is important because, children will be confused when they are taught something different and they see something different in practice. They will need reinforcement and assurance that what they see around might not be the correct thing and if they don’t agree to it, it is not the right thing to do it.
  5. When driving, following the traffic rules and not honking until required
  6. Not pushing the autowallah to jump a signal and requesting him not to honk un-necessarily. May be doing the same with the people you know.
  7. Trying to be an example to the children around us.

 

If we can take this seriously, I think it we will win the battle of pollution. For further understanding, I would urge you to see this video –

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=606245526116400

Ambuj Dixit

 


 

A Mumbai-based communication professional and business advisor, Ambuj has discovered the beauty of life through his lens. As he looks at the world through his camera and frames stories, moods of the city and its people, the end product is something that is real and full of life. He calls his images ‘photography sans photoshop’ and that is what his photos portray — the stark realism, as it really is, undiluted by technology.

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