India is a land of contradictions.
Walking through a back alley in Delhi, on one side the wall is decorated with tiles bearing images of Gods, Goddesses and Deities. Turn my head the other way and I see children sorting through waste and shovelling it with their hands onto an enormous pile of rubbish.
This vast country, famous for its rich spiritual heritage, with its huge population, has an enormous waste problem.
Not so long ago, the cups for chai were all made from unfired clay and people only ate from banana leaf plates, so throwing these onto the street presented no problem.
Now, the chai mostly comes in plastic cups and everything else comes wrapped in a plastic too, but it still gets chucked on the ground, meaning that the streets of India are littered with waste that won’t bio-degrade for several thousand years.
At best, it will be burned in piles on the street, filling the air with acrid smoke that has people breathing in toxic fumes and constantly coughing while undoubtedly tearing holes in the Earth’s atmosphere.
It is ironic that people in India take so much care over their own appearance – the women dress in exquisite sarees and men comb and oil their hair to perfection – yet noone bats an eyelid at the mounds of rubbish by the roadside that are slowly turning this beautiful country into a wasteground.
I have come to India for spiritual inspiration, and it can still be found. But it causes me great pain in my heart to see the way the people here treat their own country of which they are so proud.
The pure, unquestioning devotional psychology that comes so naturally to the Indian mind needs to be coupled with education and environmental awareness very soon, before this mystical land gets lost in a gigantic pile of plastic waste.