Friday, February 10, 2006

Caste and trash! Is there a relation?

Sorry! This post is not to offend anyone, but venting off of my frustration. During my 2003 trip to India with my daughter, the two things that disappointed me the most were the trash and traffic chaos in all of the four states that we visited including Punjab. Thing about trash is that it is kind of related to the attitude of majority of the people in India which in turn is related to casteism. Yes, I can see it happening in Hindu tradition, but at least majority of Punjab should be clean given the Sikh attitude towards caste being an unsikh thing. The problem is that so many people want to belong to the some sort of upper caste be it a Brahaman in Hinduism, and Jat in Sikhism, but it happens all the times. If we take a look at the matrimonials in every Punjabi newspaper, we see caste and status etc. mentioned in almost every ad . The part I don’t understand is that even some of the newer generation that is growing up in the western countries like Canada, U.S., England etc. acts the same way towards picking up trash. I remember, a few years ago, my kids and I decided to clean up the Gurdwara hillside where trash gets blown away due to wind and sometimes intentional thrown away in our local Gurdwara in the Bay Area here. A little kid was watching us and asked why we are picking up trash? Our answer was who is going to pick it up? What surprises me the most everytime is that out of thousands of people in the Sangat, a lot of them watch us but I have yet to see a person come out and help. Interestingly though, some of these same people would have no problem at picking up trash or doing similar clean up work at jobs at convenience stores, restaurants, homes, hospitals. airports or all other places where they work and live. Is it the egos or a caste thing or laziness? I really don't have the answer. This may be a little too harsh of a post and does not generalize all Sikhs or Indians, or Punjabis, but I do feel that picking up trash should not be considered a lowly task for a Gursikh, especially in Gurdwara premises. I wish the attitude would change one day and would be an exception not a rule, but somehow I get disappointed lot of times. Please try it yourself and you will see what I mean?

And, secondly the traffic in India, all it takes is a few thousand gallons to paint lanes by the highway department, but somehow the attitude and will is not there! With India's goal of becoming an advanced country by 2020, the attitude at grass roots level has to change.

2 Comments:

Blogger msingh said...

re trash - I'm not sure wether it's just a sikh thing, or wether there are things that come from being or originating from India. Sometimes generalisations can be correct, such as most Indians having an extended family structure, or preferring to have sons rather than daugters. My experience has been that Indians will not get together to fight for the betterment of their 'patch' like the English do. Ingrained values and habits can change, but it sometimes seems to take forever.

Have to agree about the traffic in India, I remember Ludhiana being really terrible jams during the rush hours. But hopefully in Delhi at least the new metro system will make a difference.

Waheguru

2:47 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

"My experience has been that Indians will not get together to fight for the betterment of their 'patch' like the English do. Ingrained values and habits can change, but it sometimes seems to take forever."

Well said msingh ji. I guess change would have to begin at some point and come from us!

9:43 AM, February 16, 2006  

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