Waste and the Mind



Waste was not a problem in the villages of India until a few years back.  People did not use too many things and hence there wasn’t much waste.  Whatever little waste was there could be disposed of easily too.  For example, the food waste was used in feeding the dogs, cats or the cattle.  Now hardly anyone bothers to keep such animals at home and hence the waste becomes a problem.  There is not much space left to dispose of the waste either due to the increasing number of houses in small plots of land.

Main road through Arikuzha

Main road through Arikuzha

Arikuzha is a small village in Kerala.  My boyhood was spent in that village which had a pristine beauty with its rivulet that carried crystal clear water, with its narrow roads flanked by green trees and shrubs, and the undulating landscape that always looked spruced up by Nature itself.  Today the rivulet looks like a clotted drainage canal.  The trees and shrubs have managed to survive, though the vast variety of earlier days has been robbed by rubber trees.  The landscape resonates with the booms from the granite quarries.  Arikuzha is not a pristine village anymore; modern civilisation has already left many a scar in its landscape.

But I had never expected to see people dumping waste in plastic or nylon bags.  This is not done by the people of the village.  The villagers still have healthy waste management systems.  Moreover, the villagers won’t destroy the cleanliness of their roads and streets by dumping waste by their sides; they still have a good sense of cleanliness.  It is people from the nearby towns who come in the dead of the night by their vehicles and dump the waste by the side of the village roads.  The people of this village have removed such waste many times and buried it.  But the waste keeps coming in the nights at unpredictable intervals.

Developed nations dump their waste in undeveloped countries.  The cities dump their waste in the villages.  Is that a law of nature?

While I was travelling by train from Ernakulam to Delhi I read in the Times of India bought from Gwalior that it is the poor who always bear the brunt of progress.  [Fancy the Times of India publishing such a report.]  When prices rise, the middle and the upper classes always find a way of rising above the prices; but the poor perish, slowly.

Art of waste disposal at somebody else's place

Art of waste disposal at somebody else’s place

Dumping of waste produced by the richer classes in the cities on the less privileged people of the villages is a terrible act of inhumanity.  But who cares?  A fellow passenger in the train, an army officer, told me that Kerala has become a den of criminals.  The crime graph is rising steeply in the state.  “I’ll retire after two years,” said the officer, “and I thought of starting a fishery in my village after retirement.  But my relatives told me that not only would I have to protect the fish from the thieves but I would also have to sleep in a steel framework.  Otherwise the thieves would break my head first before breaking the nets I put around the fishery.”  He discussed in detail the kinds of crimes that are rampant in Kerala these days.

Neatly disposed waste on the roadside

Neatly disposed waste on the roadside

I don’t know if the crimes and the wastes (thrown around) are related.  I think they are.  Because both arise from a certain kind of mental status, a kind of depravity.

The pictures given here are a few of the ones I took from my village.  You can see the bags of waste thrown by the sides of the road which otherwise looks quite romantic.

About matheikal

My more regular blog can be accessed at www.matheikal.blogspot.com
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10 Responses to Waste and the Mind

  1. Pattu says:

    A state which leads in literacy, is going down in social issues.Literacy and moral , ethical issues are not connected, it seems.

    Sad state of affairs.

    • matheikal says:

      Probably because there are too many people now in Kerala who have come from other states. You will be surprised to see the number of people speaking Hindi, Bengali and Odiya even in the villages of Kerala.

  2. mak says:

    I did witness garbage being dumped in the serene outskirts of bangalore a few times. Villagers do try to stop them.

    Sad state of mind sir.

    Welcome back

    • matheikal says:

      The act of dumping waste in the villages is really unfair to the villagers, Mak. It’s a terrible kind of injustice. But what can the villagers do except bury the waste of other people?

  3. Raghuram Ekambaram says:

    Matheikal, you would agree the tenet of modernity and progress: private cleanliness and public filth. Your experience is the community version of the same tenet. Only I know how many times my parents had to fight with our neighbors for dumping their garbage along the compound wall of our house and not theirs!

    This is a problem of urbanization, particularly of the uneven kind. The less urbanized just do not create enough garbage to play tit-for-tat. You mentioned this explicitly and that is what I consider the best part of the post.


  4. bhavanas11 says:

    Matheikal, you have written simply and lucidly an issue that I have struggled to express–the issue is modernity and its accompanying alienation from environment…I have written a post on this http://tillingtheearthwoman.blogspot.in/2012/05/why-is-my-india-dirty.html…but the post does not do as good a job as you have managed here.

  5. jaishvats says:

    Hi Matheikal

    A major chunk of my childhood was in Kerala and I still remember the greenery with a lot of fondness. Its sad to know that it is getting deteriorated with modernization and the villages are bearing the brunt of it. Hope these folks get educated and correct themselves with the passage of time.

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