In a country with a population as large as India, if every citizen steps up to play a role in improving society, change is not only feasible—it is right around the corner.
What if India was on the verge of independence today, and the freedom struggle was supposed to happen now? What would be the role of the majority of the youth? Would they rise to the occasion and be the backbone of the freedom movement?
It is another century, and the problems are clearly different. The capital city is officially among the most polluted cities in the world, landfills are overflowing and catching fire in major metro cities, states are fighting water wars, and 40 % of Indians still defecate in the open. Aren’t these problems as debilitating to national progress as colonial rule? The bigger question is—will young citizens rise to the occasion to solve these problems?
Here are five ways everyone can start being an active citizen:
Managing waste better
The practice of segregation of waste is still uncommon. When waste is mixed together, it loses its value and has to be denounced to the landfill. It is said that by 2030, India will need a landfill almost as big as the city of Bengaluru to dump its waste.
So what is the solution? Segregation! Set up a segregation system. Get two dustbins of different colours and start throwing wet waste in one and dry waste in another. Placing the wet waste container in kitchen would be a great idea since most of the wet waste comes from there.
Going one step further, composting can really help, directly diverting plenty of waste from landfills for enriching infertile soil. Composting costs nothing more than ₹5 and five minutes in a day.
Know your street/ area
Everyday issues like waste, water, and sanitation come under the direct purview of a city’s municipal corporation. In most cities, every area falls under a ward, the smallest geographical unit of a constituency. An official called a corporator or councillor is in charge of the ward. This person has the power to solve a lot of the problems at the ward level. Having proper information about the official can be helpful in getting issues resolved. Most of this information is easily accessible online. This information may also help citizens take informed decisions during municipal elections.
India is too populous for the government to be everywhere, and ‘helping it help you’ may be a solution to many everyday problems. Reporting problems is becoming increasingly easy in most cities. The Delhi Police, for example, invites citizens to be its eyes and ears. Recently, civic apps have made the process of reporting directly to civic authorities hassle-free and intuitive. Just Google your city name and “civic app” together, download, and start reporting!
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Try and solve problems—fix a spot
Reporting a problem is important, but may not always be enough. Small actions at the individual level can go a long way in solving tough national problems.
A small garbage spot can be a good place to start at. Inviting a bunch of friends to fix a garbage spot can make for an interesting experience. In many cities, it has been observed that members of the local community who have taken an initiative to clean up the city have been supported by the municipal corporation to ensure the sustainability of the initiative.
Use resources responsibly
The Kaveri crisis brought to light what water—or rather the lack of it—can do to people and entire state governments. Before demanding water as a basic right, it needs to first be treated as a valuable commodity. Here are some quick tips to start saving water:
- Get leaking taps fixed.
- Fix UPOs on all the taps of one’s house. UPOs, or Usage Point Optimisers, help reduce the flow of taps. They generally reduce the flow to about 60 % of the original without compromising on the quality of user experience.
- Reuse of greywater can significantly reduce the burden on groundwater. Some of the popular methods of reuse of water include using it for soaking greasy dishes, wash cars, mopping etc.
As overwhelming as the problems look, the smallest of solutions hold the promise of change. Imagine an India where citizens are not at loggerheads with the government and instead solve their own problems, making corruption redundant and change possible. Get started today. Let’s solve small, and dent big!