An NRI's plea for cleanliness
Through one of my sites on Amitabh Bachchan I keep on receiving occassional feedback. Many of the readers write to me presuming I am in contact with the megastar. Some are ardent fans like me and write essays in his praise. A mail I recently received from one Satpal Mehra, an NRI living in Austria, though it makes the same presumption, is unlike any other fan-letter I ever received. Realising the larger-than-life persona of BigB and the impact he can make, Satpal wrote an emotional letter to him urging him to become a part of this effort to make India clean on the lines of Singapore . Here is the unabridged letter which I reproduce without Satpal's permission, hoping it serves his purpose and that Amitabh, and most importantly us Indians, actually read and absorb it.
AMITJI, INDIA NEEDS YOU
After living over 45 years in europe ( last 35 years in Austria), one becomes more patriotic than when one lives in own country. The words of our President Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam ” I HAVE A DREAM ” have been haunting and following me like a shadow. His dream is to make India as great and as clean, as any country in the world. His dream is to make India as prosperous and clean as any western country. In the same breath, he had rightly and directly hit Indians and NRIs, who visit or live in Europe, America, Japan and Singapore. In those countries, like in Singapore they behave and even pay a fine for throwing an empty cigarette packet or anything on the road. But as soon as they reach India and instead of setting an example for others, they throw anything on the road. Our president is right, when he means by blaming the government such India born citizens only want to brush away their own responsibility.
Quoting him further – Don't only ask what India & Indian government can do for you, just ask yourself what I can do for India. Apart from our education, national status and pride, we NRIs owe a lot to our Nation. Last month I have started mobilising small groups of NRIs in Europe & America, and friends and relatives in India. We can't help in 100 wrong things, but we have taken up .
Amitji, few months back, I met an old man from Singapore, and he said that in 1945 Singapore was as dirty a city as any other large Asian city. A city counsellor thought of an idea, to put a token fine on people for any kind of littering in public places. Others laughed at him. He said that it was not the fine, which will make people stop littering, but the humiliation of a policeman stopping and telling them, what a wrong thing they were doing. The on-lookers shall be the main factor. He was right In his assessment. Today, Singapore is the cleanest city OF THE WORLD. We have worked out a program, through which retired military & civil officers, as well as active doctors, judges, lawyers, teachers and other people who have eccess to Internet, can build small groups of 2 – 3 persons, and only help to keep 20 to 30 metres of areas ONLY AROUND THEIR OWN PLACES OF RESIDENCES OR WORK: A comprihensive website is being prepared, to explain.
Tamil Nadu has already passed a Law to fine Rs. 100/- anyone for spitting in public places. Other states shall follow the suit. Unless we have some personalities like you, who shall raise their voices against ” DIRT, LITTERING & ILLNESSES ” our voice shall never reach far enough to eradicate the nasty habit of littering. We shall take the burden of work on our shoulders, but your moral help and guidance shall be our backbone.
Once again, Amitji, I request you to help us to HELP YOUR & OUR BELOVED INDIA.
With a big hope and personal regards,
Sat Pal Mehra
Not spitting on the road is only one part of Singapore education and it is the easy part of cleanliness. There is more to cleanliness, being spotlessly “clean” in your intentions and transactions. This is not an area of strength for Indians. Otherwise Singapore Indian expat parents would not be complaining.
Very good thoughts indeed Mr.Satpal. But unfortunately BigB is busy mingling with cronies such as Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav (Who was caught on camera spitting in a press conference).
I can’t believe TN did this. My worst experience has been around the borders of TN. Good going TN!
As is the case in a lot of areas, gov.sg does the kiasu (literally, “scare to lose”) multi-pronged thing, including stuff like : fines, CWO’s (corrective work orders – a form of public punishment), and for a time littering offenders even had their 15 minutes of fame in the local mass media!
However, there are limits to government intervention. Once out of their own country, the Ugly Singaporean comes into play, joyfully littering in other countries (!!)
Hence, promoting education and cultural change would be the better long-term solution. But this kind of thing takes time.