Where do we the Meiteis head to?

The other day around less than a fortnight from now, Cleanliness Drive Programme on the patterns of the much- hyped Narendra Modi-thought, ‘Swatch Bharat Abhiyan’, was performed in and around Singjamei Bazar areas. A day prior, a massive campaign was organized, wide publicity made across the main road and by-lanes of Singjamei constituency appealing to the citizens to come out one and all and participate in this novel initiative. I saw in the following morning a large congregation of volunteers, boys and girls, women and men in brand new Tee Shirts, along the main roads. Large number of participants in uniform was seen cleaning and sweeping the roads. I came to know that the programme was part of the “World Environment Day’ celebrated the world over on 5 June.

The celebration was timely and most welcome even though in mid-July. The adage, ‘Better late than never’, holds more appropriate in the areas of keeping the surroundings clean, more so at a time when the mother Earth is facing serious threat from all forms of accumulation of dart, denudation, deforestation, pollution. The three Corporators of Ward numbers 15, 16 and 17 were leading the movement in great earnest. Large posters were planted at vulnerable spots appealing the inhabitants to refrain from dumping garbage anywhere around.

The appeal was truly revealing, rather humbly, soliciting the people not to get offended with the emerging request. It read, in bright colors and eye-catching format:- “Amot-Akaii Langthokpiganuu, Waroubiganuu, Luna-Nanna Thambada Mateng Pangbiyuu”,:- Corporators, Ward Nos. 15, 16. 17.

The irony is that even when a very righteous appeal was made by public authorities, asking people not to litter, one has to be polite, humble, lest be offended with such a ‘Request’. We as the people around should appreciate such initiatives if not participate, true to our culture, (we are more known for standing aloof quietly watching what is going around, stubbornly refusing to lend hands).

I found the ‘Appeal’ adequately blown up in colors earnestly appealing the people not to dump refuse at the site, just at the entrance of the Singjamei Super Market from the southern side. Two days of the putting up of the poster, the site was near clean devoid of the usual garbage and stink. I felt elated at the emerging scenario of no filth by the road side at least. Unfortunately however, the position was not to last long. The 3rd day presented a totally different ambience. We were back in Square One. The reversion was exceedingly quick and in full force and fury. The site returned to its usual form, all kinds of dirt suffocatingly stinking in make shift plastic bags lying scattered all around. And this plastic, a menace now to the environment has been considered the greatest peril to the mother Earth. Environmentalists pose the question, ‘Planet or Plastic’, we have to choose. The answer is too obvious theoretically but in practice, things are not as bright.

I was wondering even on the face of the bright colorful poster large enough, could be roughly, 6x10’’ which easily attracts notice even for the passersby how the people dare dump garbage on its very nose. The ladies and the gentlemen, (is it proper to address such people as respectfully, is a big question), with bucketfuls of garbage had taken the trouble of bringing from their presumably modern homes only to dump in a public place, just bordering the AH-1. What will surprise many is even when they were about to trash away the garbage, little knowing about the new intruder in the avatar of a large poster, (they couldn’t for sure, miss the colorful poster, brand new in its reasonably attractive luster, kind of a sign board occupying an area of 60 square feet just in their very front, they choose their way in.I was wondering how could they not get counseled adequately by this new board, get slightly startled by this poster, cause a sudden pause to urge their already poor conscience not to, I repeat, not to, dump the rubbish? They should have noticed the Appeal not to…, that too rendered very politely; and yet, undaunted they went ahead with their mission, threw away the entire lot, of course casting a passing side glance at the Appeal.

Forget the garbage for a moment, how could these ladies and gentlemen, in all probability, University degree holders or even possessing higher qualifications, perhaps occupying respectable positions in the society, ignore such popular appeal for some good cause for the society? How many such ladies and gentlemen should have brought the filth from home only to dump at the very site where such a large hoarding was staying put? My guesti-mate counts that about a dozen or more families should have deposited the rubbish every single morning before 5 AM; so early because they too possess some element of ignominy however poor and wish to avoid confronting passers-by. In other words they have been doing this stealthily ashamed of passersby. What is needed is that this element of ignominy should be cultured enough to raise heads high. Sadly, they are not of this material; they are made of some inferior stuff.

This scenario need not be confined as the exclusive preserve of the people in Singjamei alone. After all, we the Meiteis are ordained with near similar trait, same culture, same outlook. Such posters would have been be put up across the city and yet, such a disdainful level of scenario where people come only to dispose of the trash on the open. It’s hardly of any use talking about what other nations do in this respect; nevertheless, it would be worth-noticing what other developing countries, not too far ahead of us in terms of development, do. I normally do not talk about advanced countries like Sweden or the Scandinavian countries of which people talk about their highest level of standard of living. But I am adequately tempted to make a passing reference to what less-developed countries practice these days.

Countries like Thailand, Cambodia or even Myanmar are far ahead of us in the matter of disposing garbage, keeping public places clean and therefore the level of consciousness about standard of living. They pack properly in thick polyether bags rather than the kind of loose debris we people do. The difference between the two in terms of hygiene is understandable. It doesn’t cost much, it’s a question of taste or whim; we can all afford normally. What matters is the element of level of consciousness.

Why then we so stubbornly refuse to learn, to change, kind of a transform? Is it because we are Meiteis, the inhabitants of this Sanaleibak?

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