Anushka-Virat, show real courage on Mumbai’s filth
In a video shared by Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma could be seen schooling a young man about not throwing garbage on the streetUpdated: Jun 21, 2018 12:21 IST
Film star Anushka Sharma and cricketer Virat Kohli have inadvertently done a lot more to expose the shallowness of the Swachh Bharat Mission than a dozen columns such as this ever could.
In the video that went viral over the weekend, Sharma could be seen schooling a young man seated in a car parallel to hers, about not throwing garbage on the street. Kohli, driven either by his own passion for cleanliness or admiration for his wife’s “courage” or both, posted the video on social media. “Saw these people throwing garbage on the road & pulled them up rightfully,” tweeted Kohli, “Lot of people who don’t have the courage to do something like this find it funny…shame.”
Both their acts – pulling up the errant man, and posting the video – brought the star couple some bouquets and many brickbats. A few people complimented them for speaking up, for driving home the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat programme and so on. But many called out Sharma’s school-headmistress approach and Kohli’s over-the-top gesture of filming it and posting to social media.
Sharma and Kohli do not need publicity but I reckon they would not pass up an opportunity to earn some brownie points from Modi, the leader they allowed to stand in between them at their wedding reception and the person Kohli tagged for a pointless fitness challenge. They show an aspiration to be the right-saying right-doing celebrities in the Modi era – an era in which famous people, officials, people in responsible positions have to show off and exhibit their “right” moves.
The well-travelled star couple who live in a Mumbai high-rise might want to know that their home city is among the most polluted metros anywhere in the world. Never mind the Swachh Bharat rankings the city is filthy as ever. But it does not boil down to one man in a car throwing litter on the street. There are many aspects which Sharma and Kohli may want to address.
Sharma may like to take municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta to task for the utter mess that has been made of waste segregation in Mumbai and how untreated sewage finds its way into the Arabian Sea. She may want to give him a few school teacher-like lectures on how garbage dumps still dot most areas of the city with waste spilling out of them; and how it is unhealthy for citizens.
Sharma may also want to pull up Mehta and political leaders for the contractors which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) employs to dispose garbage on dumping grounds, for the pathetic state of these grounds where disease and infections lurk, metres apart.
And while at it, she may want to give a piece of her mind to her swish neighbours about the need to segregate garbage and compost waste from wet garbage within the well-appointed housing society. A whopping 73% of the waste which Mumbai sends to dumping grounds comprises food, vegetable, and fruits waste – a report in this paper states.
Sharma may also want to take BMC officials to task for allowing contractors to build public toilets which collapse and kill those using them. Two died in a Bhandup slum in April; dozens have died in the preceding years. And she may want to holler at the officials and contractors who short-change the poor casual labourers they hire to send down dangerous sewers without safety equipment. Four of the five who went down a Powai sewer died this January. Approximately 45-50 workers die in this horrible way every year across India. She may want to raise her voice against manual scavenging.
If she actually had any of these interfaces, she could be hailed as a bold and audacious woman who calls out the significant wrongs and powerful people who need to be called out. If Kohli filmed these and posted, it would be courageous. They would have then used their awesome star power in a meaningful way. Else, that exchange remains a cute one-off stunt.
First Published: Jun 21, 2018 01:02 IST