According to the WHO global air pollution database, 14 out of the 15 world' s polluted cities are in India.
If that does not bring out the need to take immediate action, I don't know what else would.
How did we get here?
There are a lot of factors that contribute to this conclusion but the most obvious one is that we, as citizens of this country, don't take care of our surroundings.
Not even when we are specifically asked not to. Ignorance is one of the biggest reasons why our country has made that list in such significant numbers.
What is ironic is that when we travel to another country, especially one where the rules are damn strict about littering, we bring out our best game.
I remember traveling to USA when I was a child and there was this one time that I was about to litter on the road after opening a packet of chips in the car because that is what I had seen all my life. My relatives immediately stopped me and told me to keep it with me till we got home. To be honest, I was pretty confused because that's not what I was used to.
The same relatives come back to India and spit on the road and litter around because according to them,
'India is already so dirty, how does it even matter?'
Now, there are two things I take out from this incident.
Firstly, my parents and my peers should not have conditioned me as a child to believe that it's okay to throw garbage around.
Saying that our nation is already polluted so it's okay is exactly the kind of issue we need to address.
When the government of Delhi made a much-needed decision to ban bursting of crackers on Diwali last year, people were not happy with that. They thought 'their rights' to celebrate the festival are being taken away.
Instead of obeying this decision of not bursting crackers at a time particulate matter levels in the city had risen three times, people still managed to do as they desired and many parts of the Capital suffered.
The problem lies in the fact that people don't consider their actions to have any serious consequences.
It's high time everyone realized how wrong that perspective is. There are dire consequences to each and every one of our actions contributing to the environment and it's killing our country.
People are under the impression that just one person's actions cannot make a significant impact on the environment, whether it's about destroying or fixing it.
There are people who have proved this theory absolutely wrong, and with their efficiency and determination, managed to make a huge difference.
Afroz Shah, a lawyer and ocean lover took up the initiative to clean up Versova Beach with the help of the United Nations and 300 local volunteers. It took him a prolonged period of 109 weeks to complete his mission, and in the end, he had managed to get rid of 5 millions kg of garbage.
Thanks to this one person, a significant change was brought upon Versova Beach.
If one man's initiative can bring in this level of impact, imagine what our country is capable of if everyone started being more considerate towards the environment, even if it's one day at a time.
Making efforts to keep a clean place clean is great but destroying what's already on the verge of destruction isn't exactly how you help a problem. You make it worse.
If that is not hypocrisy, I don't know what is.
And coming back to India and praising how other countries are so clean isn't doing any good either.
Take a pause. Give it a thought as to why those countries are a better place to live in.
Because the citizens make an effort to follow the rules.
A lot of people believe that the country defines how well-mannered you are. How? Is the country a living breathing being with a conscience of what's wrong and right?
That's us. The citizens of the nation. We define how our country should be like. It is our duty to take care of the land we live in but if we keep mistreating it the way we do, doomsday is not far.
I agree the rules are way more strict in most western countries as compared to ours but that doesn't have to stop us from being better citizens.
It's the people who make the nation and not the other way around.
We should unite as a nation and contribute in making our country a better place in whatever way possible, within our resources but will absolute determination, and change will follow.
These are some NGOs all over the country you can contact if you feel like you should be a part of this initiative.