Our Cities are in a Mess

I was recently in Chennai and at first, I was so excited about the malls, the hotels, the government buildings and so many other stuff you usually in see in these great, big, developed cities. But it didn’t really take me long to realize how our cities were, in fact, in a mess. From just the terrace of a building, I could see so many things as proof.

Some distance away, there was a huge gray cloud rising above some scrubs. It was probably because of some people trying to burn away their garbage. But I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for the houses nearby. It definitely wouldn’t be healthy for the atmosphere, that I’m sure of. Then looking down, I saw this great pile of garbage spreading for about twenty yards or so, right next to the compound. Probably, a convenient dumping ground for all the neighborhood garbage.

Non-degradable, degradable, all piled up for the cows and dogs to feed on. Oh, and let's not forget the millions of mosquitoes and other pathogens, these kind-hearted people were helping to breed. I mean, let's think about it - It wasn't even a slum. It was a perfect locality with well-educated people... who apparently found dumping their trash on open land as a very hygienic and civilized way of living.

Seriously, I don't think there's any use of all those years of schooling and all those degrees if we are not going to keep our surroundings clean. But what's even worse than these garbage dumping and rubbish burning sites are the open drainage one finds in many cities and towns... including Chennai. What is really remarkable about this issue, is that about 4000 years ago, in the Harappan Civilization of India, there were underground drains and really well-managed drainage systems. But now, about four millennia later, our modern cities are still stinking with drainage canals lying open in front of shops and other such buildings. And naturally, they serve as sites for garbage disposal.

But leaving the drainage aside, in the other two cases, who are we supposed to blame? There is always the municipal corporation... but something tells me it's not really their fault. If we don't care about the environment, then how can we expect them to? They are after all, citizens like we are and I think it's rather unfair to expect them to be any more concerned about the society or environment than we are.

We don't necessarily have to go next door and fight with the neighbor for spoiling the landscape and demand him to change himself. Not really. But as long as WE continue to spit on roads, throw waste stuff out on the streets, burn loads of rubbish, etc. we cannot possibly expect our cities to be all beautiful and polished. Nor can we expect others to change either.

In the end, it all narrows down to just this - Change has got to begin somewhere, and the place for that to happen is within us before it begins anywhere else.

"Be the change you want to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Yeah, I know that you're probably bored of hearing that. Nevertheless, it's so true and relevant, that without it, I don't think this post could ever hope to be complete.



  1. Good work C.H.A.N.G.E team! A report well said and well written by Meenakshi, Congratulations!
    If we have citizens like you taking political power in India, our country will be a better world. Thank you GIRLS for the initiative.