Indians: inherently unhygienic? Indian writer touches third rail

November 16, 2012

(Any opinions expressed here are the author’s own. They are not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

My Indian friends and I joke around a lot about me as the typical white American guy visiting India. Cows! Con men! Colors! Most people I’ve met in India have restricted their reactions to my westerner-in-the-east experiences to gentle teasing. When I stuck a picture of a man urinating in public on my Facebook page, calling it one more picture of what you see everywhere you go in India, people weren’t as patient. What was I doing? Insulting the nation? Focusing on the ugly because it’s what all the westerners do when they visit India? Why does India provoke such visceral reactions in visitors?

Public urination, public defecation, dirt, garbage, filth, the poor living on the street — talking about these things, even acknowledging that they’re in front of your face, risks making your hosts unhappy, and possibly angry. It’s the third rail of India, and the voltage can be lethal. That’s why I was surprised when B.S. Raghavan decided to touch it with all 10 fingers.

Raghavan’s column in The Hindu Business Line newspaper begins with this headline: Are Indians by nature unhygienic?

Consider these excerpts:

From time to time, in their unguarded moments, highly placed persons in advanced industrial countries have burst out against Indians for being filthy and dirty in their ways of life. A majority of visitors to India from those countries complain of “Delhi belly” within a few hours of arrival, and some fall seriously ill.

There is no point in getting infuriated or defensive about this. The general lack of cleanliness and hygiene hits the eye wherever one goes in India — hotels, hospitals, households, work places, railway trains, airplanes and, yes, temples. Indians think nothing of spitting whenever they like and wherever they choose, and living in surroundings which they themselves make unliveable by their dirty habits. … 

Open defecation has become so rooted in India that even when toilet facilities are provided, the spaces round temple complexes, temple tanks, beaches, parks, pavements, and indeed, any open area are covered with faecal matter. … 

Even as Indians, we are forced to recoil with horror at the infinite tolerance of fellow Indians to pile-ups of garbage, overflowing sewage, open drains and generally foul-smelling environs.

There’s plenty more that you can read in that story, but I’ll direct you to the article. I’ll also ask you some questions:

  • Some people say you shouldn’t point out these problems, and that every country has problems. Do you agree with this statement? Why?
  • Does anyone disagree with Raghavan’s descriptions of these sights and smells?
  • Is this even a problem? Or should people get used to it?
  • Should visitors, especially ones from countries where people are generally wealthier, say nothing, and pretend that they don’t see unpleasant things?

As for me, I can say this: I got used to it, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice it. Indians notice it too. Otherwise, people wouldn’t suggest public shaming campaigns against people urinating in public, they wouldn’t threaten fines for doing it, and they wouldn’t respond with relief to plans to finally make sure that toilets on India’s trains don’t open directly onto the tracks. Of course, these are people in India. It’s a family, taking care of business the family way.

As for me, the message usually seems to be: “If you don’t love it, leave it.” It would be nice if there were some other answer. Acknowledging problems, even ones that are almost impossible to solve, makes them easier to confront.

(Photo: Robert MacMillan)


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I’m an Indian American. I think it’s something cultural rather than specific to Indians. The Indians I know in the States are, for the most part, like myself – OCD clean freaks.

But the minute I step off the plane in India…

I think it’s just because, you know, things are awful already, so why care? It’s easier/cheaper to just get used to it then deal with it, especially if you’ve never known a cleaner life.

Put those folks in India (the ones trashing the place) in a more cleanlier town/nation for a day, and I bet they’d change when they went back.

Posted by ahms | Report as abusive

That’s a really good point, and I would say that my observations match yours. Thanks!

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

I have read other articles from the same journalist in Hindu, and most of them are very true and interesting and critical about India. After reading this person, I just cannot help but smile and thank god that someone is at least willing to speak about the problems Indians face, even if solutions will be nearly impossible to find.

For more than a year now there is a group in Bangalore called ‘the ugly Indian\'(consisting of english speaking middle class people) who has been cleaning banagalore streets every weekend. But this is actually the Govts job because even after a years work Bangalore has become more filthier than last year due to issues related to problems in Govt institutions (lack of dumping ground, employee strike etc).

But living overseas for more than a decade, whenevr I visit India, I cannot help but yell out, what a Fility and dirty India.

Posted by paulose | Report as abusive

Every problem in India is interrelated. In this case it is pretty simple. A comparison between an Indian in India and an Indian in the USA, the UK, Australia or the Europe will put a light on the problem, which every one of my fellow Indian’s, who travelled abroad would agree. There are rules, there are ethics (related to hygiene) and then there is willingness to stick to either of them when we are outside India. When we travel back we go back to our roots, where rules are so democratic in nature that we tend to forget our way of life when we lived in one of the developed countries and try to be one of our brothers back here. And yeah we have a classic answer to this “back to routine thing”, “what difference is it going to make when, only I change and a hundred thousand others don’t”? See the comparison over here is based on a 1:100000 ratio. And this very ratio (we can convert it into a world renowned term, “population”) is the root cause of the problem I was telling in my first sentence. When a rule is made, the governing authority should make sure that they are implemented. The inadequate number of people who can be employed to oversee such rules getting implemented is one of the issue (remember government has not enough to pay to them) while the larger one still remains the same, “mindset of people” who think that law should focus on more heinous crimes than trivial issues like cleanliness and even if I break a law which fines me for my deed, I would rather pay bribe than getting punished. Well I would rather pay the fine, than paying a bribe (see I campaign for a cause called India against Corruption ;)). Hence many such trivial issues in India are tied with three things, “Population”, “Corruption” and “Traditional Tolerance”. But there is a positive side too. Just as I stop paying bribes, a day will definitely come when I will be part of “India against Filth” campaign. It’s just a 66 years old country (pre independence days are not accounted here).

Posted by kkt201081 | Report as abusive

Here is an extract:Subroto Bagchi: The Mahatma’s sadness

saturday, october 02, 2004

When the Mahatma returned from South Africa, he was pained by the pervasive lack of cleanliness among Indians. The most talked about story is the one in which he was travelling in a train. A co-passenger who kept coughing would spit the phlegm on the floor of the train. The Mahatma took his handkerchief and cleaned the phlegm with his own hands. In Sabarmati, he started the practice of cleaning toilets, and insisted that ‘Ba’ do the same. Even in his writings, he expressed pain over the lack of sensitivity among Indians for hygiene and cleanliness. It would appear that the problem is rooted in poverty, poor infrastructure and education. The truth is, it is not.

1990: I was posted in California. My work included looking after Indian software engineers who came for six months to a year to work on projects. Typically, two engineers shared an apartment. Most of them were bachelors. One day, an infuriated apartment manager called me up and blasted me. She demanded that I come and see how my people ‘lived in a pig sty’. I drove to the apartment complex at once.

She took me to one particular apartment where two engineers had stayed. The tour began with the toilets. The tiles were covered with mildew and soap stains. The floor was black, there was hair all over. The mirror on the washbasin was covered with water stains and shaving foam. The basin made my stomach turn. She showed me the carpet – it had not been vacuumed since they had moved in. The sofa was littered with food. And in the kitchen, dirty utensils which had been used over several days were piled at the side of the counter.

I was speechless. Apart from the complete lack of sensitivity, I was dumbfounded by how the residents found living like that acceptable. After all, they came to the same place everyday and cooked, ate and slept there! A thought that crossed my mind was the poor allowances that were paid to the engineers. Back then, the RBI permitted remittance of $1,800 per person, per month as ‘living allowance’. Out of that, an engineer kept $900 for personal expenses and food, and used the balance to pool in with two others and rent a car and an apartment. For some time, I thought that the poverty of the mind began somewhere there.

2004: The Indian software industry has arrived. We do not have issues with how much we can spend on our travelling engineers. In every country where our people go, we pay comparable wages. Yet, the other day, a pained customer of an Indian software company brought to light a repetition of what I had witnessed in 1990. This time, the customer had to bear the brunt. He brought photographs of a place he had rented for visiting Indian engineers. The housekeepers who managed the place were exasperated, and refused to clean it any further. The gentleman had to ask for expert help to clean the place. The expert agency had one look, and said they would bring it back to shape if they were paid $3,200! Meanwhile, word had spread and locals there refused to rent to people of Indian origin.

In Japan, children who go to kindergarten are taught to clean their toilets. A child who realises that it is not one man’s job to create filth and another’s to clean it grows up with greater sensitivity. Years back, when I was working on Six Sigma in one of our earlier companies, a group of visiting experts from Motorola told me: “The day your toilets are Six Sigma, your products and services will become Six Sigma.”

We have created great educational institutions. But what value is an education that fails to teach us ambassadorship? What good is our reputation as software designers if residents in a small European town do not want to rent to us because we leave their houses in a defaced condition? When I was a little boy, my father taught me a simple message. He said: “Always leave the newspaper and the toilet the way you would like to find them.” For me, that was good enough. For the rest of us, do we need to make the Father of the Nation return again?

Posted by Raggie | Report as abusive

Accepting that there is a problem is half the battle won,then one can address the issue,if we look the other way and wish it will go away,is no way of solving.Main problem is the sheer numbers,and the disparity,govt. funds does not reach the pockets where it is meant to,the mentality of the people will change if the growth and the benefits reaches everyone.

Posted by prernadelhi | Report as abusive

I appreciate such a thoughtful and interesting response. I wonder sometimes, now that I’ve become acquainted with many Indian people professionally and personally, whether there is an attitude on the part of men in particular — and bachelors even more so — that they were not brought up in life to clean, cook and look after themselves. That’s what ma is for, or a wife. I don’t think that upper-middle class and upper class people behave that way generally, but many of the “aam aadmi” whose paths I’ve crossed in India, particularly if they come from a higher-ranking caste, regardless of their income, have some pretty set notions about being clean and who does what. The funny part about notions of cleanliness and how they relate to what tasks they shouldn’t do has an ironic outcome: dirty living. None of this I can prove; it’s just an observation and a question to you and to anyone else who might read this.
Robert MacMillan
Editor, global editions

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

if you have the time… s-dirty-ways/

Posted by frombangalore | Report as abusive

V. Raghunathan puts forth a very convincing narrative for why this may be happening in his book: -Why-are/dp/0143063111
Essentially, Indians are used to finding exceptions and ‘beating the rest of the crowd to the finish’, having had to compete with large crowds from time immemorial. It is reflected in how traffic works in India, and in the general uncleanliness of public areas.

Interestingly, a lot of the people in India try to maintain a very clean and organized house but consider the outsides to be permanently unclean. I had no idea what mold looked like until I came to the US and started living by myself. My house in Rajasthan is always impeccably clean due to my mother’s high standards and a staff of servants who clean the place daily. But, our garbage is disposed off in an open pit just like everyone else’s – negating the effect of our painstaking cleanliness for the outside world. My apartment in Pennsylvania takes a 100th of the effort to clean, but is a complete mess: in my kitchen I have a bowl of cereal that predates the first presidential debate. But, it poses no public health risk because it will get picked up with the trash next Wednesday and then disposed off in Mexico or New Jersey.

The theoretical solution to this problem would be the building of infrastructure (garbage disposal, power, public toilets, animal shelters, spittoons), legislation and strict implementation of legislation. All three would have to happen at the same time for India to change. Considering how big the country is, this will easily cost more than a couple billion dollars. Unfortunately, India will never see that kind of cash for urban development, and even if we did, the money will be doled out on big, beautiful monuments praising our ruling class (  ) or in the making of ‘Heritage’ hotels (  /jaipur/Jal-Mahal-case-transfer-plea-re jected/articleshow/17330771.cms ).

A practical solution lies in the unbridled rise of capitalism and private investment. Some of these urine pastures you see in Indian cities are worth more per square foot than land in manhattan. On average, any urban land you see in India is easily worth twice as much as urban land in the US. For about $40k, one can either buy a modest apartment in Jaipur or a $1000 sqft independent house in Maryland right off the beltway. It’s only a matter of time before large corporations such as DLF (which owns practically half of Delhi/NCR) buy up huge pieces of land in India and build their own ‘cities’, where land is regulated by the corporation as opposed to the government. These cities are one step further than gated communities in the US, in that they have their own schools, hospitals, facilities and even police. Two great examples of such cities would be Hiranandani in Mumbai and Alameda in Gurgaon. The main hindrance here is the unique way the Indian government works (  /2012/11/23/wal-mart-and-corruption-in- india-is-there-actually-any-way-to-avoid -it/ ), and the willingness of Indian politicians to recover and sell disputed land (http://articles.economictimes.indiatime als-lalit-modi-hotel-projects ). It’s heinous capitalism that deprives the poorest in India even more, but it may be the only possible solution.

Brilliant ideas from Bangalore will take a long time to gain grassroots appeal in the whole of India, but I hope that someday they do.

Hopefully someday our politicians will start taking bribes from corporations to clean up the place. (One way the youth of India can get that movement started is by boycotting and protesting at any malls or office parks that have unclean surroundings. But it might be slightly absurd to do so.)

Posted by AkshatSinghal | Report as abusive

Thanks for this lovely and thorough reply. I appreciate it. One thought: I wonder if mold in Rajasthan is rare because the air is drier than in many other places in the world. It’s not the main point of what you write, but it made me think…
Robert MacMillan
Editor,, global editions

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

“… but it made me think…” (Robert MacM)

You think too much and respond not enough. Seems to me the smart move is to stay-the-hell away from India – and make damn sure ‘they’ stay away from others. Being PC might make you ‘hip’ and might even get you laid – might – but it does nothing to solve the problem; shunning Indians does.

Posted by MrRFox | Report as abusive

Thanks for replying and for reading.

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

AUTHOR wrote: “Indian writer touches third rail”-

Excellent article on the whole.

Statistically speaking, it is true that Indians are unhygenic. In this there can be no doubt. My place here in the US is such a mess that it shocks most people who have not been to India. Instinctively and at the cellular level, I just seem to love a mess, so it is possible that this is genetic as well as cultural.

Moving on, I should mention that the term “Third Rail” is not always comprehensible to global readers who:
(a) Do not have an understanding of Social Security in the United States.
(b) Are used to electric trains with overhead powerlines.

Given that the majority of your readers seem to be Indians, you might as well be using incomprehensible baseball metaphors.

The Vania have an excellent saying: “When you go to work, leave yourself at home”.

Given your experience in India, I am sure you have met the Vania, so you know exactly what I mean.

Posted by ImamHaq | Report as abusive

You are correct. “Third rail” was not good. I should have chosen a better metaphor, and I apologize.
I’m sure that your place is just fine.

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

Author Wrote: “You are correct. “Third rail” was not good. I should have chosen a better metaphor, and I apologize. I’m sure that your place is just fine.”


You know I that I just trying to provoke you. As you Yanks says “I am just yanking (no relation) your chain”. Why? Because I believe that is the most interesting part of all discourse.

But you have not responsed to my main point: Have you met the Vania?

Please comment for all 1.2 Billion of your readers & their family and friends.

Thank you.

Posted by ImamHaq | Report as abusive

Well I must say that picture was a very mean thing indeed!
We are sensitive to these things because they put a bad image of our country. And believe me we are already very battered with all European bashing of our culture and history.

but what did you sought to achieve by that photo. I don’t think you anticipated a huge campaign to stop such things. :D. I would be surprised if you thought that.

We know such things exist but honestly we are powerless.
( Yes you can leave out last one or two years when middle class has suddenly began rising and asserting). If you point out such things what we will do, bang local municipality. We don’t have such direct contact with our govt. In fact the entire infrastructure is quite weak.

I am not sure how much taxes are shared with the MCD that enables them to maintain the local city hygiene. And whether they get regular money or not. There is also corruption and some form of lawlessness. New dustbins are stolen (you can smile), cleaners are shown on paper however their salaries are appropriated by the officials. Thank God the last one was revealed and action taken. As far as govt responsibility is concerned, there are serious lapses. Changing govt is one aspect. It wouldn’t be enough, there has to be a campaign on this among people too. Then things will get better.
But things are changing. When Metro opened the people did dirty it in the first days but then there was outrage and I have seen people keep stations clean. There is not much litter.

I don’t agree with raghavan that toilet facilities are enough in the cities. It doesn’t make any sense as why Indians or any (human) would want to do it in open. The facilities need to be planned according to density of population and also at proper distances. I don’ think there are enough public toilets other than one near metro facilities.

Lastly sir, I will love to recapitulate western history to you. I think your first cities were extremely dirty and one of arguments in first wave of feminism was this. Political rights should be given to woman because they can handle things related to cleanliness better. And slums were also known. I just have read Charles Dickens to know them, or that when Gandhi visited London to meet the king he lived in east London, a slum area and poor section of London. The 1950’s west evolved the concept of welfare state and started replacing slums with cheap housing schemes or something like that. Things became better. I am sure India will come out of it too. Because change is constant.

To make your travel simple I will love to give Paulo Coelho’s advice ( especially no 5) to you. Thanks. avelling-differently/

Posted by Woman21 | Report as abusive

I get it; even I have a sense of humor. Vania — no, but if it will earn me 1.2 billion readers, consider it done. Even if it earns me 1.2 readers, consider it done!

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

Thanks for Paulo Coelho’s advice. Everyone compares, including you and me. The hard part is to try not to render a value judgment based on your comparison. Nothing I have written indicates or says that I have. I have traveled to numerous countries in a variety of capacities – journalism, pleasure, family visits, school trips as a child and more. Things are different in the next house, the next town, the next country. Writing about it is a good thing, not a bad thing. I appreciate your thoughts, and I hope that you continue to read and share your thoughts.

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

Just one more thing Robert, I didn’t want to imply Paulo Coelho’s thought that you are trying to prove yourself to be superior. I understand that you were trying to improve and understand why indians are sensitive to such pointing out. And its not wrong because criticism can prove to be constructive and make us better. I rather want to emphasize on the last line of point 5:

your aim is to find out how other people live, what they can teach you, how they deal with reality and with the extraordinary.

I think following this can make your stay more enjoyable and fruitful. Just a thought.

Posted by Woman21 | Report as abusive

I completely agree. And I appreciate the thought.

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

Post and comments are comparing India with the so called wealthy countries:U.S,Britain etc.I’ll stick to it too.

warm climates have larger mass mobility than colder climates.Crowd means hygiene problems irrespective of ethnicity if not controlled efficiently by efficient govt.India for record always had inefficient governance be it in the pre indepedent era after the advent of foreigners or post independent era.

In the a fore mentioned non Indian countries industrialization,urbanization started much early and in fact some of theses countries is where Industrialization took birth.Urbanization,industrialization again means mass mobility.These countries had the advantage of smaller population on one hand and on the other hand got started on the public facilities required for mobil crowds(driven by industrialization). When you add to this the awareness campaigns like slapping people with fine for public nuisance and other controlling techniques it will naturally have disciplining impact on unruly(from our POV) minds. How else can you explain the alarming contrast between the presence of hygienic behavior of citizens in public places and the absence of the same in personal domain in many of these wealthy countries.
To sum it up it’s not just citizens it is the urbanization,industrialization,inefficie nt govt which makes public places look pathetic when it comes to hygiene in India.
Indians in private domain are the most clean people in the world thanks to their culture ,tradition.

Posted by skybrave | Report as abusive

It has become a fashion for most indians, to abuse indian people and society for NOT being as clean as the west..

But they never strive to understand the reason for the current state of india..

To understand this, we have to unnderstand the two different societies that existed in india when britishers left..

1. The English Educated Westernised indians, who lived mostly in metros under colonial administration ..

2. The Traditional Bharathiya people, who had the native administrative system, but remained colonial slave.

During independance, the britishers handed over power NOT to traditional bharath (whom they conquered), but to the Metro Indians, who are the class of people brown in color, but english in mindset, tastes and attitude..

These metro indians, were largely disconnected from traditional bharath, viewed the traditional india as backward, barbaric, uncivilised. Thus they divided this nation in to two – Urban vs rural, on the lines of the west..

In the west, the meaning for villages/rural are places where barbarians or uncivilised live.. the urban indians, had the same attitude towards traditional india which they saw as rural..

Thus for past 60 years, urbanisation policy has been thrust over vast stretches of traditional bharath..

The local administration system was de-recognized, and people were prevented from administering or organising themselves.

And more importantly, the metros like Chennai and Mumbai was expanded by dismantling numerous villages that surrounded it and the people of that village had no voice or choice over it..

So how will a nation organise itself when its own administrative system is paralysed, by the very same Urban Indians, who abuse it?

These people doesnt understand that, people cannot behave themselves, and that’s why a king/ ruler is needed to enforce order..

Suppose if the administration system of the west are crippled (like how urban india did to traditional bharath), will the people behave themselves, without police or officials?

We saw, how they behaved during choas of Cylcones..

The urban indians instead of abusing the victim, should infact feel guilty of destroying their native systems, and exploiting them..

Posted by nativethoughts | Report as abusive

I guess every country has a bad side of the story but this is so bad. These public urinals are very public! I didn’t know they exist. What really make it look bad is as you noted, people don’t seem to care or notice. Still, India is a great country and has its share of impressive places not to mention their current fast-growing economy.
This might help things to get better over time. health-101/

Posted by deanbanner | Report as abusive

I can assure you that it’s not something genetic since I’ve always been appalled by my countrymen’s lack of hygiene. Every time me and my friends go to the beach in Chennai, I always bring a plastic bag and clean up after the inevitable littering my friends would do. They’d look at me like I was an alien, but it never bothered me.

I think it’s just a fatalist attitude that affects Indians, perhaps Indian culture that deemphasizes material living has desensitized the general population to hygiene? Also, there might be a bit of self-segregation at work in India since the upper casteclass communities (such as Brahmins) generally maintain reasonable and often OCD-esque standards of hygiene. They also tend to stay away from the slummy areas and try to minimize social contact with people living in the poorer and often dirtier areas. Talking with people often only makes them angrier so I think people give up after a while. (I once tried explaining hygiene to an auto driver who kept spitting and he got infuriated and would spit more just to piss me off). It’s hard to stop such behaviour unless it’s done by legislation but good luck getting such an act passed in a democracy where people stick to their ways. I can only hope that as Indians become wealthier and get more global exposure, our standards change and a sense of accountability arises in our people.

Posted by arviman | Report as abusive

As an Indian myself I completely agree with you and Raghavan. I am born and brought up in India. Not in a city, from a less popular city in the nation and in the suburbs. I could see filth and dirt everywhere since my childhood but trust me I DID NOT get used to it. As they say Indians develop some form of immunity health wise, getting used to seeing filth, tolerating smell and dirt is something that I have struggled since my childhood. I used to wonder why the Trash bins (that you can sight only once in a while somewhere) always overflowing with filth and you can see that people throw waste around it. I have later worked in the US and get to see even other asian countries that are much more cleaner than India.

I have had done my own research on this subject and trying to understand the thought process of Indians and other country people who are generally clean. All I can deduce is this…

1. Trashing waste – Indians idealogy about cleanliness is totally different. One cannot deny that the religion and culture plays a big role here. There are people down south who religiously follow sweeping sand and mud along with trash every morning and then sprinkle water and then finally decorate with Rangoli. Even though they do this every morning (They do this as they think this will bring good luck and money) the place is immediately littered with their very own waste, sewage etc. Why not dispose the kitchen waste etc in a bin (even a cheap bucket with some plastic lid will act as a trash can) and then dispose it instead of throwing and leaving trash openly. The government itself is unorganized in sewage and waste processing and management (they dont care about this too much). You can see trash trucks with loads of trash overflowing in a open truck. If you follow the vehicle, you will for sure faint of smell, dust mites and filth. The most intolerable thing is how these waste carrying vehicles on a busy road spill those trash along the path it travels.

2. Toilets- I have always had BIG problem with this from childhood. There were times I used to hold on until I reach home just to avoid using any public toilets. Be it in a restaurant or doctor’s office, you just cant be so sure that it will be clean because even in expensive restaurants and hospitals you still see people that can spend money on food or medical care but do not care about civic sense to use the toilet clean. The janitors they employ are mostly from very poor and backward caste and they generally do not practice hygiene themselves so how can we expect them to clean toilets properly?? No amount of training will make them to clean toilets properly, its ingrained in their blood. Another problem is in India people use water in Indian toilets. And western toilets are popular only in recent 2 decades and most people wants to wash their leg even after using western toilet. Result, water everywhere in the floor and I hate to step in the toilet. And if its dry you can almost always sure to see drops of urine on the floor. Disgusting.

3. Spitting – Another most annoying and revolting thing that I cannot tolerate. I wonder why Indians have the urge to spit something. I understand that its in the culture to chew pan (betel leaves with various condiments) but these days there are some narcotic stuff added to these ‘zarda’. You can see everyone chewing this and spitting the red disgusting saliva in the walls, corners and pretty much everywhere. Even people who dont chew zarda or pan will spit just like that. I have never had an urge to spit unless I am sick with phlegm that I coughed it out. Otherwise I only spit while I am brushing in the sink. Still dont understand how filthy they can get and really dont understand how much disease could be spread and their beloved ones can get affected..

4. Household – Most middle class and lower class people do not have trash bin in their house/kitchen. They throw it in a bucket (open) or it will be just lying in the floor. No proper use of trash bags, trash cans with pedal opening etc. Indians think investing in a trash can or trash bag is waste of money (I am talking about even people who can afford). For those who cannot, a simple cheap bucked with lid and a shopping bags will serve as a trash bag but still they do not want to put an effort to trash properly/

5. Infrastucture – India’s infrastructure is no where near other countries in terms of basic necessities in the community. People will build a house before they even think about sewage waste disposal, trash disposal, rain water disposal etc. The problem is the government dont have regulations and real estate is a booming business. Even when municipality cannot support sewage, the build will still be built and sold and people live here dumping there sewage waste in the nearby water bodies. THIS IS REAL. The water bodies are heavily contaminated. Its appalling to see that Indians do not just think about health and safety.

Although India is a multicultural and mutilingual country, from top to bottom, east to west everyone in India seem to keep cleanliness as a last priority. IT IS INGRAINED in their blood.

Although I am born and brought up in India, I have hated the Indian habits on hygiene. Most stem from religious and cultural background and one cannot deny that. I try and keep my home, myself and surrounding clean ( I do not litter in public). I am sure many Indians are there in India that hates to be in this unhygienic situation and want Indians to have some civic sense and practice. Its not that hard isnt?

Those who blame that India is poor and thats why filthy , I do not agree with that at all. I have seen rich Indians that litter, urinate in public even when they can use a toilet in a near by restaurant for free or a public toilet (most will be filthy to the core and hence I believe men choose to urinate in a better place in public)

What about the street vendors that are throwing there waste in front of their ‘shops’ or vending vehicle? Why cant they throw in a neat trash bin or a plastic bucket and make sure it is clean. Why cant customers who eat in those eateries throw in the trash bin. Instead you can see all those vendors, be it a food vendor, flower or vegetable, they just trash open in front of their shops. why cant they trash it in a bin and throw it in a trash bin nearby or leave it there for corporation to pick up?

Its not that Indians cannot be hygienic and neat just because India is poor. Even when the government is not taking effort, on an individual level one can put an effort to minimize filth and dirt being disposed openly. We just dont want to do that because I sensed Indians feel a sense of pleasure when they can cause as much damage as possible or as much filth as possible. I cannot understand that pride and is very unhealthy.

On the contrast, if you ask an educated Indian about these, like you mentioned if a foreigner notices filth and mentions, they defend themselves and get embarassed immediately. THe first step in improving oneself and the nation is accepting the problem and put as much effort as possible to change this ingrained habit. It is something that is possible if Indians take responsibility on an Individual level. Because government is made of people in position and if those people are responsible in their personal level then change is possible.

Funny thing, I have seen Indians giving me a look when I tell them I am taking the litter in my handbag to trash it in a bin when I find one. They even tease me that I am “too much” and persuade to stay with that ingrained habit. We have to just fight hard and bring a change.

Posted by Sunshine101 | Report as abusive

The bottom line is that GOD cannot save India, leave aside the people who are interested in reforms.

Posted by skamat | Report as abusive