The Ugly Indian, the anonymous collective that is working a slow revolution in Indian streets (and mindsets), has done it again.
After cleaning up the streets of Bangalore with a vengeance, they have found their next target: flyover pillars. These massive structures are common targets for promotional posters and the accumulated dust and filth on our streets, and can (and do) easily become public eyesores.
The Ugly Indian has till date cleaned and painted over 250 of these pillars.
Their latest target was area under the flyover (what is called the UFO area) of the Bhadrappa Layout flyover in Bangalore. Over a 100 civic-minded citizen volunteers and BBMP personnel came together to reclaim this public space. The drive saw people of all ages turn up and work, from young children to senior citizens.
They didn’t just paint the pillars, either; they also fixed up walls, footpaths, and road medians in the area.
The local government is clearly thrilled with these enthusiastic and dedicated workers — since BBMP personnel work along with them, this is, in a way, a public-private partnership.
There may be something to what they’re painting onto the pillars too. The 3-D pyramid design seems to work wonders at dissuading advertisers from using them as notice boards.
In contrast to their previous bedraggled condition, the painted pillars remain spotless. It’s clear that a single move in the right direction can lead to sustained positive change.
Clean, beautiful public spaces can make even the make living in cities a joy. The Ugly Indian, whose motto is “kaam chalu, mooh bandh” (“stop talking, start doing”), is showing us that moralising, debating, and blaming will lead us nowhere till we pick up broomsticks and paintbrushes in our own hands — and get to work.
Because our cities belong to us.