Recently, an Australian radio host, Kyle Sandiland called India a “shit hole” and Ganga a “junkyard” and Indian groups in Australia are seeking an apology from the radio station as the Indian community is quite angry with such remarks from the Australian media. I was reading this news online and there were hundreds of comments below the article and most of those comments were literally abuses hurled at Australians, Australian media, and most importantly on Australian cricket team! I was wondering what cricket has to do with the remarks of the radio host. Later on I figured out that it’s cricket that brings Indian and Australian people together and then makes them fight for almost anything!
People who are opposing the same are either ignorant or in denial. It is hard reality and Indians need to accept it --not only the Ganga, but almost all the other rivers (have you ever seen Yamuna?) are turning into drains, have been dumping spots for big industries for a long time now. Have you ever visited the Allahabad and seen the condition of Ganga? This place is called the holiest place to take bath and shed all your sins committed in this life time, but I doubt if one has ever survived no illness after taking a bath in such polluted water. A few years back The Economist reported that Hinduism’s scared river (Ganga) contains 60,000 faecal coli-form bacteria per 100 millilitres, 120 times more than what is considered safe for bathing. Ganga has eventually become the “junkyard of corpses” and there shouldn’t be any doubt about this.
We have naturally developed the habit of resisting change, even when it is for the good. Almost everyone can see the daily littering, urinating, defecating by people on the road sides; spitting in trains, buses are routine. You can see dark red spots of paan-masala everywhere on the railway stations, bus stands or almost at the every public space. Have you ever tried to go near the railway tracks on a railway station? You are welcomed by the strong smell of excreta and within seconds your head will start spinning and you may go unconscious in seconds. One rarely experiences such an assault on the senses in railways stations elsewhere in the world. Is this what we call our culture?
I met with one of my friends from Sri Lanka at a restaurant in Gurgaon, a few months ago and while discussing how much she liked India she told me what she saw one day at a traffic signal stop - a person was defecating at the bridge in the broad daylight - and though I felt embarrassed at her observation of this, I couldn’t deny the stark reality. After that she told me that it never happens in Sri Lanka. Is this the culture we Indians are so proud of? I also remember from my last Budapest’s visit (on the invitation of Jai Bhim Network) that no-one ever litters on roads or public places, no-one urinates, defecates on public places but seek dustbins or toilets or even carry the garbage to the home if he/she doesn't find one. Our cities look like extended slums, towns are filthy dumps and villages often smell strongly of excreta. It’s interesting to note that Hindus regard cleanliness as an important virtue but the task of cleanliness is considered low and is reserved for Dalits.
In the book "Area of Darkness" (written in 1964) V.S. Naipaul gives an extremely dark account of India and details how dirty the country is. He writes that elsewhere in the world, approach to villages through countryside is a pleasant experience but not in India where a visit to villages is welcomed by smell of human excreta. He observed it in the decade of 70s but it is still true in most villages in India.
Many of the comments that I read online were describing Australians as “criminals dumped by British”. And yet, they are in the list of developed nations then what’s holding the great Indian minds back? Rather than abusing Kyle Sandiland, we should be thankful to him that he pointed out our weakness and now it’s our turn to correct. My advice would be to stop the whining and verbal bashing of the Australian radio host, Kyle Sandiland, learn and start cleaning your backyard. Only then we can begin thinking about showcasing to the world our “best culture”.