The best way of showing that example is better than precept is what the Japanese did. After the football match which they lost, they meticulously cleaned up the stadium which the fans had littered. Armed with big garbage bags, they painstakingly picked up all the rubbish and litter, leaving their locker rooms as clean as they found it.
A few yeas ago, a group of us visited Japan. We were housed in a place with all mod cons, a real home away from home. We went sightseeing after breakfast. We made sure that the place was spick and span before we left. Even so, when we returned, the house was vacuumed, a vase of flowers on a table, fresh towel in the bathroom, a basket of fresh fruit in the dining area, eggs, snacks and a large carton of milk in the fridge. Also tea bags and instant coffee. That we were feted and entertained is another story. We don’t have to go to such lengths but we can conduct ourselves in a less deplorable manner. What are we leaving the next generation?
Compare with our country — despite the wide publicity given to Swachh Bharat, I don’t see our surroundings one bit cleaner. In fact, they are filthier than ever if one is to judge by the mounds of leaves, coils of cables and drains dug up and what was dredged up left beside them, debris from construction sites... Otherwise, how do we account for the stinking mountains of plastic bags and bottles, vegetable and fruit peels and leftover food which the stray dogs leave all over the neighbourhood?
Household garbage is disposed in an innovative way. Sometime ago, when I was out walking one fine morning, I spied a gentleman a little ahead of me. There was something furtive about him. My imagination took instant flight. One hears such stories nowadays.
He confirmed my fears when he started casting surreptitious glances all around. Was he going to plant a bomb? Could he be a member of IS? I couldn’t call the police as I didn’t have a mobile with me. In the meantime, he had gained ground. I quickened my steps, to close the gap. He turned down a quiet cross road. Nobody seemed to be about. The houses belonged to retired people who hadn’t risen yet or were having a quiet cup of coffee indoors.
My quarry, in the meantime, hastened his steps. I was desperate, helplessly watching, while a crime was being perpetrated right in front of me. He had evidently found the right spot. He walked up to a tree, and with practised ease, left a black garbage bag in a fork in the trunk! And then, mission accomplished, he swaggered way, leaving me nonplussed!