Everybody loves a good selfie, including Prime Ministers. And like everybody else’s, their’s are just a drop in the global selfie ocean.
Greater access to technology has made taking and posting selfies almost viral among new human habits. So much so that ‘selfie’ was declared the “Oxford word of the year” in 2013. A year later, news reports quoting Google sources indicated that over ‘93000000 selfies are posted online everyday’. Newer reports in 2015 highlighted the craze, stating more people die attempting the perfect selfie, than due to shark attacks! According to a latest study (Lamba et al., 2016 ;), India is the reportedly the chart topper when it comes to number of selfie deaths.
While selfies far outnumber many other daily statistics – 24000 people dying of starvation, for instance – representing the new cosmetic world order, we also know by experience that old habits die hard. Among the latter “favourites” to potentially outlive selfie mania is ‘littering’.
Here is a series of selfies of litter (plastic, or otherwise) taken during a visit to Tadiandamol – the highest peak of Coorg district in Karnataka. Apart from paying homage to our widespread habit, this also tells stories of people who seem to care not for the country or its Swachchh Bharat campaign.
1. King-of-good-times or -bad
2. Smile please: Particularly useful for overnight campers.
3. Milking a good life: For you if not for the earth.
4. Hungry Kya: Recover calories burnt.
5. Silver foil: Almost gold.
These are just few examples of what one finds apart from peace of mind in scenic spaces. Yet, not all blame for littering exotic locations falls on visitors. In Tadiandamol, for instance, nature can be equally responsible. With winds at the speed of over 80 kmph, holding on to garbage can be a daunting task. Sometimes sincerely.
Amidst old habits and new, and nature, ‘Swachchh Bharat’ may seem a distant dream; yet, it is not impossible. There is always hope in newer habits and more evolved mindsets.
Like Thimayya, a local caretaker for a rest house at the base of Tadiandamol. Meekly greeting visitors passing by, he requests them to carry back their garbage. That many visitors may be anti-national – continuing to litter, not caring for the country’s efforts towards cleanliness – does not stop him from trying.
Like Nazar, an urban visitor who carried back a huge bag of garbage of his own. Whether littered by anti-national visitors or by the wind, he collected all that he could and did his duty for the nation for the day.
What we do of the garbage stopped from being littered, or cleared, by the likes of Thimayya and Nazar, may itself need nationalism check.
Nevertheless, that there are many like them is inspiring. That more join in these positive efforts is a thing to hope for, so our selfies can afford to have a more balanced face to surrounding ratio. Else, we can always clean up our faces, and cover up our habits, and continue to live in our Swachchh virtual paradise.