India is a whirlwind of cultures, beliefs, practises and ideologies, and while a lot of it is beautiful and illuminating, the country also has a number of shortcomings. The position women occupy, the condition of our forests, the air we breathe, all of it could do with a little bit of understanding and a whole lot of change.

To start on the road to that change, here are some shocking facts about India, and things we can do about them.

While there are some benevolent organisations and caterers who give their extra food to those who really need it, it's not that hard to make an individual effort to save food as well, whether it's in the house or in a restaurant. Store and preserve your food right, shop smart and plan your meals with the ‘use-by’ date in mind. Such a massive amount of food wasted is terrible. 

 

Using public transport, controlling the use of energy and making use of electricity in an efficient manner, and converting garbage into compost in your own locality can help reduce pollution in Indian cities. The Mumbai air isn't going to clean itself.

 

A serious concern and a practise that's been entrenched in the minds of a lot of Indians, education about the plights of Dalits is gravely needed. This involves being informed and consequently contributing to movements, protests and debates towards to the upliftment of Dalits.

 

An absence of transparency in government organisations as well as an entrenched idea of paying to get out of a situation has led to India being one of the corrupt countries. By making people more accountable and fighting for the right to information through different petitions, the scourge of corruption can be battled.

 

While a major cause of water consumption and wastage happens because factories need large amounts of water as coolants, at an individual level, limiting our bathing water by using a bucket instead of a shower, cleaning cars with a wet cloth and verifying that our homes are leak-free can make a difference.

 

Major causes of this include drunken driving, using a phone, jumping lights and over-speeding, all of which are avoidable circumstances. Being a responsible driver and encouraging others could help solve this problem and also potentially save a life.

 

While there's been a government ban on plastic bags in place since 2004, enforcement has been a problem, thanks due to both the sellers as well as the buyers. If you consider the fact that plastic bottles can take 500-1000 years to biodegrade, it seems imperative to make a change. Switch to recyclable materials, encourage the use of hemp instead of plastic, reuse every possible bottle, bag and straws.

 

This has been due to massive cuts in aid to the education sector by the country, as well as other factors. To battle this at an individual level, one can enroll in volunteer programs to teach underprivileged kids who don't have access to basic education. It's rewarding, productive work that goes a long way.

Design Credit: Nishant Patel