Musings of a Pioneer: WhatsApp Tigers and Environment

We have several WhatsApp groups in our upscale condominium complex; like many of you may be having. The group members are regularly active, but mostly on these groups only, not on ground. We have turned into WhatsApp tigers.

The other morning, a lady noticed one car coming out of the gate of the society and moving in the wrong direction. She is a conscientious citizen and could not tolerate this brazen breaking of rules. She promptly posted the incident on the WhatsApp groups and left it for other good citizens to debate the action to be taken.

There were many suggestions. Finally, it was agreed that residents may send a representation to the traffic police authorities to implement traffic rules. This was widely accepted on the group and that was the end of the debate, till they find another cause. I am yet to see the representation.

We abhor self-enforcement and more often even penalties do not work. A campaign for complete ban on items made of single-use plastic was launched by the Prime Minister last October, something which should be of a bigger concern for we the people.

Many of us still demand plastic bags from the fruits and vegetable vendors by the roadside. We then come back and pontificate about the impact of plastic on environment and the legacy that we will leave for the generations to come, and that is the end of our bit for environment.

My wife has been a crusader for these environmental causes. She has been carrying her own cloth bags since the last 15 years or so whenever she steps out of home to buy groceries or vegetables. She ensures that my car always has enough of these bags for any emergency shopping.

Even many of our smaller states are doing their bit. I travelled to Sikkim last June and in the evening went out to buy a few provisions. The shopkeeper could only give us a few old newspapers as plastic bags are banned in the state since 1998. We were also told to carry our own water bottles as packaged mineral water bottles were banned in north Sikkim.

We also noticed prominently displayed boards across the state, when passing through towns or villages, that the town or village was free of open defecation. I had so far not seen similar boards elsewhere in the country. This was another of the initiatives which the prime minster had announced a few years back, but sadly many of us still believe in an open-air morning walk to the fields or railway tracks or whatever space is available.

Gurgaon authorities have been trying to implement management of waste at the household level, segregating our waste at least in two categories – dry and wet – and to set up in-house composting plant inside our residential societies. My wife has been going around from door-to-door with a few other volunteers requesting to segregate, but segregation remains at a measly 30%. The argument by the residents against segregation is that even the neighbours are not doing it.

I have now been living in Delhi NCR for the last 22 years. I have never been able to understand the psyche behind the urge of residents here to flirt against rules. Possibly everyone who lives here feels that he or she is someone because of proximity to the centre of power. Have you also overheard the person pulling ranks – meri pahunch bahut upar tak hai?

The silver lining is that schools are taking up these social causes. Many years back my daughters came back from school and told us NO FIREWORKS. I guess it will be our children who will teach us the necessity of taking care of environment.

This morning on my morning walk within my upscale residential complex, one gentleman spit on the bushes by the track; another lady blew her nose noisily on the grass a few steps ahead. I chose to believe that it was because the poor people did not have toilets at home or were too poor to afford carrying a handkerchief with them. I am waiting for another debate by the WhatsApp tigers about some more important issue.

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