Working Towards a Cleaner India: Why Litter begets Litter, and Why This Should Stop

Admit it: when you are in a place where everything is spotless, and orderly… you more often than not do not need a sign that says “DON’T LITTER” or “KEEP CLEAN.” You comply with the norms of this miraculously immaculate environment. You’re scared to put something back in the wrong place, or exert too much force in case you break something or god forbid, leave a footprint that’ll spoil the picture I just gave you.

And yet… find yourself in a bustling market, replete with slush and noise and litter and once again, you comply. You’re happy to add to the litter and noise, splashing about in the muck, however fancy the (now torn and written over) DON’T LITTER signs are. Perhaps it’s the usual argument of one person cannot undo this mess. Or that you don’t even bother rationalising: when in muck, act like pigs do.

Collectively, our attitude towards India’s lack of cleanliness is quite flippant. Sure, it’s a topic of conversation. We’ve all had the “How is it that we don’t litter when we go abroad but the minute we enter India, we’re back to littering?” chat. Or the “I just went to ___ street today. I’m not going there again, even if I really need to buy something.” We throw a chocolate wrapper in a dustbin and feel like a ninja, but in another instance, when there is no dustbin in sight… we let it join a pile of waste by the pavement, as hey, whoever is cleaning that up can take care of the chocolate wrapper too.

Sometimes, when there’s a plastic cover (yeah, those still aren’t going anywhere, despite being charged for in grocery stores) around, we might find the heart to dispose a milkshake carton or two in it, and search for a dustbin later. Mostly, though, it goes out of the bus window because otherwise it might ruin our backpack. Yes, that’s personal cleanliness at the cost of public cleanliness. Because we feel no sense of ownership for our roads and bus stops. Why would we? They are so unclean! (And we’re not helping).

How do we pay heed to different rules in different situations? How can we turn our back to civic responsibility so easily?

Studies related to the Broken Window Theory offer an adequate, and alarming explanation. The Broken Window Theory, introduced in 1982 by Wilson and Kelling, says that when rules or social norms (such as to keep the roads clean, or not littering) are openly disregarded, the situation will only escalate in notoriety. Disorder (like graffiti), is shown to promote further disorder (littering) (Source: nasw.org); which, in turn, can lead to an accumulation of litter and even theft.

The solution provided by this theory is to “repair the broken window” before it leads to widespread vandalism and alternatively, to clear up the litter, which has already accumulated, that has and can lead to further disobedience and chaos.

radical change to our environment can lead to a change in our mindset. This alone, makes the vision of a clean India important. It may finally put an end of the cycle of flippancy, and have us care about where we dispose waste and become more socially conscious. It may involve initiatives taken by groups of people and cannot be done overnight, but is not impossible. Following your own values, and sticking to them regardless of the setting, is also shown to be effective. When “offenders” look at people properly disposing garbage, it is found that offenders, too, stop littering and clean up after them. (Source)

Thanks to PM Modi addressing the issue, it is already receiving the real, undivided attention of many. Strepsils’ #AbMontuBolega campaign has also taken up this issue, urging people to raise their voice against “all that is dirty in our country.” With protagonist Montu and hashtag #AbMontuBolega encouraging people to speak up on issues that matter, it is a great way to raise awareness. Words are powerful, but hopefully it will lead to action… starting with acquiring a sense of personal responsibility, and eliminating litter and lack of hygiene at its root whenever and wherever possible.

This post is a part of the IndiBlogger Happy Hours activity, courtesy Strepsils’ #AbMontuBolega. For more details, follow Strepsils on Facebook and Twitter

Review: Getting Lucky with Lucky 6

Getting lucky has never been this easy, screams the tagline of Lucky 6. A product of Fat Cat gaming, this game is the equivalent of a digital lottery ticket that’s as recalcitrant as… the stock market.

No, really.

Since Google does not permit “reward based” games on its Play Store, even if it’s a free App… downloading this game from the http://fatcatgaming.com site was a bit of a pain. This might prevent a lot of potential users from accessing the App. Once something takes an undue amount of effort in the App world, giving up is just easier (like how my Candy Crush days ended when I was unable to sync my levels with my Facebook account).

However, once I did manage to get the tiny Fat Cat icon on my home screen, the sign up process was smooth. Pretty soon, I had an account and pass code to the App; a thoughtful safeguard against kids, teens and anyone who wasn’t me tampering with my three ticket opportunities of the day. As for what the App or these “tickets” are all about, here’s the the brief version of what it takes to have Lady Luck possibly smiling on you:

Step 1: Download the App.
Step 2: Are you 18 years old? You are? Cool. Let’s proceed.
Step 3: Choose 6 brands from what looks like a never ending list of favorites ranging from Apple, Facebook to Balaji Telefilms and Ebay. This generates a ticket. You have upto three tickets per day.
Step 4: In around 24 hours, how you’ve done will be determined based on if your brands are the highest gainers of the day. If they are, well… the goodies up for grabs will take you straight to materialistic heaven! Otherwise, there’s always the next day. Or the one after that!

The Lucky 6 game is one of the games in the Fat Cat App. The other one is called QuizApp, and pops a question at you rather than an opportunity to block a set of 6 brands. The interface is clean and easy to navigate. There are pictures next to each brand of the list, and an option to know a little more about them before you take your pick. You can see the scores next to your tickets once you have made your choices. Sharing the app with friends and family pays off, since it’s built around the concept of Crowdfunding.

Since I’m not even close to a stock junkie, I’m not really sure how much tailing the stock market will get you in this game. But since it is marketed as a DigiLottery, I guess you never know what’s in store.

Lucky 6 has a fair chance of being a hit in the Indian market. Who doesn’t want to get lucky?

However, the tedious round-about process involved in downloading the App and that it takes at least six “random” tickets for the player to even get a hang of how they want to play the game may deter even a potential user from subscribing to it. Also, for people who aren’t into brands or stocks, it’s akin to playing Minesweeper when you’re bored (analogy does not apply if you’re one of those rare people who actually knows how to play it)… and when despite seeing the game in your computer all these years and even Googling it, you don’t know what you’re doing. It doesn’t stop you from celebrating when by chance, you kill it and you can see those red flags decorate the screen but chances are that you’d rather play Pinball Arcade, or anything with a more definite aim.

My initial experiences were pretty random (my scores averaged around 200, and I pretty much picked what looked good to me). I’m not sure if I’m even the target audience for this App. However, I can see how for some people, it can get pretty addicting!

Verdict: For lottery-ticket addicts and brand-lovers, Lucky 6 is a pretty decent way to kill time without getting broke and maybe, finally, hit jackpot!

This post is a part of the Indiblogger Happy Hours activity, courtesy Lucky 6

After Ever After

And they lived happily ever after, or so it was written in that damned book.

Right after the ‘r’ of after was pronounced, he got a phone call and retreated to his room. She was left standing, staring- feeling like a fool for believing that characters in books got happy endings. What a lie perpetuated by authors! They minimized their Word document when it was convenient and then closed all of their Google Chrome tabs of secondary research. But the characters lived on.

She lived on, watching him spend more and more hours at work. Their fun, quirky dates? He just didn’t have time for those anymore.

“Grow up,” he said. “You’re not in a fairytale anymore.”

And so she wasn’t. Her friend, the “sidekick”, got into a university in Paris and left a month later. Now all they saw of her and her witticisms was from the girl’s Facebook Page.

The birds, who had lovingly folded her laundry, had migrated north. She sighed, as she gathered up her laundry and waited for him to get back home. She’d already curled her carefully brushed locks four times that day and read five chapters of a book called Freakonomics.

Just as she was about to turn on the fan, just to have something to hum along to, the doorbell rang.

She took her time, unlatching the top bolt as slowly as she could before curling her fingers around the doorknob. And there he was, tired looking and irritable as always… this man she had once called her Prince.

“Hello, beautiful,” he said, without emotion and walked in without so much as a glance. She couldn’t stand it anymore.

“I hate it here,” she said, loudly and clearly and he looked up with genuine surprise.

“Here? You mean our home?” he asked.

“It doesn’t feel like a home. Only I live here. You’re practically nonexistent,” she spat, and he took two steps back.

“How else will I provide for us? The wedding, and the mouthwatering tarts and freshly roasted chicken and candied apples, or whatever, alone cost us a fortune! I’m working for us,” he said, looking at her in the eye for the first time in so long.

“I could get a job too,” she said. “That would lighten the load on you. Did you ever think of that?”

“No,” he said, flabbergasted. “You’re far too… far too princessy for a-“

“Please,” she scoffed. “It beats whistling to myself and singing songs all day. Please let me help you. It hurts to watch you disappear like this.”

His eyes softened, and it struck her that the last time they’d kissed was in the last page of that damned book. It seemed to have dawned on him too as he bridged the distance between them, enveloping her in a grateful embrace.

As he held her, she was overwhelmed by how his touch alone melted every bit of the anger and frustration she’d felt only a few minutes ago. She could drown in those arms and she’d feel more than content. He circled her back to where she thought it had ended, but that had only been the beginning…that happily ever after.

#BringBackTheTouch

This post is a part of the Indiblogger Happy Hours activity, courtesy Parachute Advansed Body Lotion. #BringBackTheTouch

Unbreakable

Once upon a time, there lived a girl who thought she was unbreakable. The others, they felt sorry for her.

“She’s delusional,” they said. “Everybody breaks sooner or later. It’s the fact of life. How can she lie to herself?”

“She thinks she’s unbreakable because she’s most broken inside,” said another wise one. “But we can’t tell her. It’ll break her.”

And so they watched her sail through life with her mast held high. Until one day, when a storm raged and chipped her shoulder.

“I knew it!” they said. “See! She’s starting to erode. We need to help her. We need to help her see clearly.”

It started to rain, and her shoulder burned. Tears ran down her cheeks but she was still intact. And then they jogged toward her at the prescribed pace, and decided to tell her, once and for all:

“You’re not unbreakable, sweetie. You never were.”

The sky turned black and the rains, they were torrential. She couldn’t see. She couldn’t breathe. Rocks hit her head, doubling in number with every elongating minute. She was growing numb and slowly, her nerves turned to glass. It rained as it had a countless times before but this time, she could feel it break her. She could feel the delicate and misleadingly gentle clink of broken glass in her shoulder, her kneecaps and in her body.

Her mast was now misspelled and lopsided, her pace slackening as she buckled down at the weight of the voices around her that seemed to have greeted the voices inside. They were now engaged in a conversation, and no one was winning. The sun came up again but the clouds remained.