Why India is ‘filthy’

Frankly, I’m proud enough to be an Indian to skip an article that would have a caption similar to mine. And probably I’ve lost many readers by captioning it this way, but it doesn’t matter.

I came across this post this evening and was, so is to say, ‘moved’ to write on about it. Well, I have known and heard of quite too many proud Americans and Brits, who take pride in the city they live in, in their country and so on. And to be fair, they do have a point at that. But I have also known a few people who have seen the older versions of their cities. I very clearly remember an elderly New Yorker, David, who told how the older New York would be filthy, fly-ridden, hotchpotch, unplanned, basically everything India is ill-famous for in the Western world. “That was a phase”, he would say, “it came and went away, and we had a cleaner life then.”

I would like to have a scientific scoop at it, just for fun and also because I’m what we call a ‘man of science’. Where are we (Indians) in terms of change? It is often convenient to understand a society by comparing it with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The pyramid, as we know it, is a representation of how and when we will feel the need of anything as an individual. It describes the individuals just perfectly but I find it to be applicable on collective set as well.

Image: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

A society too evolves in a similar fashion. India, as Time quoted has a ‘battered economy’ and an ‘incompetent’ leader. Not delving into whether that is right or wrong, or to what extent, a majority of Indians actually would agree to it. Whether we would like to believe it or not, but we as a nation, are still somewhere in the green region in Maslow’s pyramid (Love, Belonging), or maybe even slightly lower. This is not a verdict, nor a thing to be scared of, but most of us are just too damn poor. We’re yet to have that self-esteem that would make us flinch at sight of garbage piled up in open sight in broad daylight.

Many of us would claim to be far above in the pyramid, but our entire society’s average is not. There are still many below poverty line, many with broken homes, fickle jobs, lost hopes, blah blah (noteworthy is the fact that cities of south India are refreshingly cleaner, reflecting a more satisfied population).

Our metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi are still like that old New York of David. ‘filthy, fly-ridden, hotchpotch, unplanned’. We’re rising up the pyramid at our own inevitable pace. Nothing would quicken us, nothing would slow us down either.


8 thoughts on “Why India is ‘filthy’

  1. I hesitate whether to respond. I am an India-file. I spend 3 months every year in India. I lead my own tours throughout India. I live and breath India and have for the past 40 years…but I am an American from NYC. When I am leading tours, I am frequently asked about this very subject and frankly, have no good answer to offer. My clients are well traveled (as I am) and have been to many other poor and developing countries that do not have piles of garbage everywhere, and in fact, are clean. Do you think that it has anything to do with the belief that everything is determined, already written and can’t be changed? Call it one’s kismet or fate, so why bother to even care about it? It is a troubling issue and question. Thank you for addressing it!


    1. Good that you’re concerned despite not being an Indian (Many and most Indians are not!)
      Actually, it’s not about BEING poor, but rather about how one feels about oneself. We’re constantly reminded of what a turmoil we have made of ourselves, of how our living is way below the western standards, of how we are ruining our economy (which is again not true, Indian economy was one of the most stable economies during the Great Depression of ’08). See? And it is therefore that I referred to the ‘Time’ article about our Prime Minister.
      And as for ‘kismet’ or ‘fate’, well, I really have no strong opinions about them.
      If you haven’t gone through the article that inspired me to write this, then probably you should. Although it is just bashing, just an opinion, but reasonably offensive at points. Entertaining, nevertheless!

      PS: Thanks for commenting! 🙂


  2. Interesting way of presenting the facts. Very true. Just too many of Indians are poor and their primary need of food and shelter are of paramount importance rather than cleanliness of the community.


  3. We’re rising up the pyramid at our own inevitable pace. Nothing would quicken us, nothing would slow us down either.(its smthing tht i always say …we hav a pace…we will reach the top f maslows pyramid..mayb a little later thn we are expectign)


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