Issued in selfish interest!

I’d like to specify here that this post is issued in absolute selfish interest but not in any specific individual’s selfish interest! Once you have read through this, it will be clear that this is in the selfish interest of each one of us who takes pride in the home we live in.

We are a country where, every time a festival approaches, the first step to prepping up is to clean up the house that we live in and make it look as festive and bright as it possibly could. Walls painted, shelves dusted and floors polished to be squeaky clean. It is quite a stunning sight to see freshly painted homes lit up in colourful bright lights for Diwali!

What is shocking though is the apathy we have for the larger home that we live in. The street, the block or even the city we live in is in every sense our home too. We don’t seem to care too much about how the walls of this home are! We do look away or cover our noses whenever we see a filthy street corner where men have traditionally peed on posters of movie stars posing seductively or on posters of politicians wearing the most artificial smiles begging for votes. The fact that we seem to forget is that a problem does not disappear if you choose to ignore its existence! The need is to tackle the problem and the need is of great urgency. It is important to identify the problem and understand the causes.

  • Dimly lit and badly maintained street corners.
  • The tendency of the male species to mark territories wherever and whenever possible.
  • Rampant vandalism of public (our) property by people trying to sell products, services, entertainment or themselves.
  • Lack of a practical functioning maintenance system and the infrastructure to maintain the system itself.
  • Etc. etc. etc.
Typical example of a filthy pavement. This was ‘fixed’ later by the group ‘The Ugly Indians’.
Photo courtesy: The Ugly Indian facebook page 
Column covered with posters of politicians.
A private parking space is being washed right next to a space that has been ‘demarcated’ as a public dump where garbage gets collected. An example of our apathy!
If you thought these were the causes that I had listed out, you were wrong. These are the elements that take advantage of the real cause and yes, these are all in a weird sense thriving in a brilliant symbiotic manner. Let me explain this in one simple statement. If there were no street corners that were not properly maintained, there would be no filthy walls and spaces where vandalism was rampant and that would deter the male species from being extremely territorial in the most shameless manner. The cause here for everything that makes us walk quicker and look away is our own apathy. The fact that we have lost all sense of civic responsibility and would rather look away if we could when we see the state of affairs is the root cause of this growing evil.

Haven’t we all, at some point or the other, taken a stand in an argument where a visitor from a foreign country (who sometimes maybe of Indian origin) has complained about the stench and filth that is exhibited in our public spaces. By talking about an issue which I think is a national shame, I don’t in any way imply that we as Indians should take any less pride in all the greatness that can be attributed to our nation, our home. The attempt here is to make my home even more beautiful than it already is. An attempt to paint the walls, polish the floors and dust the shelves!

About a year or so back, I chanced upon a group of anonymous individuals on Facebook who call themselves the Ugly Indians. After going through the page and seeing the work that this rapidly growing group of completely unrelated individuals made me wake up to the reality that it was time to act. A lot had be said, very little had been done. And yeah, it was wrong to call them unrelated, they did have one thing in common, they refused to look away. The first step of understanding what this group was all about was to accept that we were all Ugly Indians and there was a need to get rid of the ugliness. This group in the last 18 months or so has managed to cause a mini-revolution and has managed to raise awareness about the issue that is being discussed here. It is not surprising that this movement has been lauded by everyone who has come across this group on Facebook and they’ve even been reported on by national and international print media and even BBC radio. The point here is that, the Ugly Indians who take pride in their anonymity and have used it as a tool in their exploits, have shown us the way and it is now our responsibility to take it further.

The before and after photos clearly show the impact that the Ugly Indians have on a public space. For more such examples, visit the facebook page of this group or visit


I am sure that there would be many such groups or individuals who at some level have been aware and have done their bit to make their homes look and feel better. But we are a nation of more than a billion people and even if a small percentage of that population woke up to this, we would have a better case to argue next time someone spoke lowly about this beautiful home of ours.

  1. ~mimo~ said:

    Your before and after shots really make a strong point!

    • Wow… that was a quick reaction Mimo. 🙂 The pictures do tell a story. I was amazed at the impact that this group has had on the spaces that they have worked on. Do visit their page of fb.

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