Sign Language: Bandipur…Signs of Something Different


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Its a little contradictory: a sign that encourages garbage to be put in garbage cans with a pile of garbage right in front of it. But its a very good start, if a little imperfect.  And one that seems to mainly have taken hold in Bandipur, which makes the town pretty exceptional just for that reason.

Its an attractive village with pretty views and the potential for tourism with so many trekking opportunities in the surrounding foothills.  Its not the only village like this I’ve visited in the short time I’ve lived in Nepal, but one thing really soon out for me…no garbage.  As the sign clearly indicates, they have a community mindset on the subject and it makes a huge difference.  I’ve seen other potentially, equally attractive towns that are trashed with garbage piled at street corners, and blowing down the street… plastic bags scattered everywhere.  Its hard for me to walk past shopkeepers on garbage-strewn streets and try to comprehend why they don’t take responsibility for the small space outside their shop.  If every shopkeeper swept up their own space, every morning their communal space would be a great deal more attractive.

In Bandipur they seem to have the message:  visitors like to admire the village sans garbage, and the streets are swept and clean. Its an excellent role model for other villages and a joy to look around. Well done!

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A rare sight…the Nepali public garbage bin. I spotted several in Bandipur

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More signs of outside investment…

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A wider view of the restoration going on…

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The main (only) street in Bandipur…swept and traffic free

2 thoughts on “Sign Language: Bandipur…Signs of Something Different

  1. Hi Caroline, yes it is a pity about the general rubbish and filth in these ‘beautiful’ Asian countries. I was horrified to witness this and also the open sewers and lack of basic sanitation, after my trip to India last year. We (the motorbikes) were in Kerala, supposed to be one of the nicer parts. I’m not usually squeamish and I was looking forward to the trip and tasting ‘proper’ Indian food but it took me 3 days before I would eat anything. I won’t be going back.
    India particularly should have no excuse now it is rapidly becoming an industrialized nation boasting many millionaires. I was so angry about what I had seen and when I got back to the UK I Googled the subject and found this article, by an Indian national Blogged in The Times Of India…

    India’s shameful load of shit: by Jug Suraiya 19 March 2010:
    On the same day that the Economist magazine’s Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) predicted that the Indian economy would overtake that of China by 2018, and on the same day that the Lok Sabha witnessed a furore over Mayawati’s Rs 5 crore garland made of 1,000-rupee notes, the TOI reported that of the one billion people all over the world who daily have to defecate in public because of lack of the most basic sanitary facilities, 58 per cent are Indians. Some 638 million of our fellow citizens – who according to the Constitution have the same rights as you and I do, including the right to vote, if they are of age – have no access to even the most rudimentary of lavatories and have no choice but to relieve themselves in full sight of others. Of these 69 per cent live in rural areas while 18 per cent are in cities and towns.

    Apart from anything else, the scandalous state of affairs poses an extremely serious health hazard; human excreta is one of the most virulent spreaders of disease. The brutal necessity of having to perform in public what should be a private act can also be psychologically humiliating.

    Commuters from Mumbai’s suburbs, and in other parts of the country, routinely see hundreds of people squatting besides the train tracks to relieve themselves. Many of them are women, who often cover their heads with their saris, thus making themselves ‘invisible’ to onlookers through the inverse logic that if I can’t see you (because my head and eyes are covered) you can’t see me. Such ‘invisible’ women are India’s open and only too visible shame.

    The humiliation and degradation does not – and ought not to – attach to those who perforce must do what they have to do without the dignity of privacy. The shame is ours that over 60 years after independence from foreign rule we continue to be a society in which more than half the total population has no recourse but to relieve themselves in the open, like animals.

    Instead of spending hundreds of crores on putting up statues of Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram and herself, and instead of accepting Rs 5-crore ‘garland’ from her worshippers – followers is too mild a word for such fawning adulation – Mayawati would do well to launch a project to provide clean and hygienic communal toilets in villages, towns and cities of UP. This is of particular social relevance in that the BSP’s core constituency remain the Dalits, who were the age-old ‘night-soil’ carriers stigmatised by the upper castes.

    Mayawati aside, political parties across the board should take up the challenge that Mother India is spared the daily dishonour of making public her private biological functions.

    Indeed, Bindeshwar Pathak, who in 1974 launched the Sulabh Movement to provide inexpensive sulabh shauchalyas across the country would be the right person to spearhead such a project. Pathak pour-flush toilets can be installed for as little as 2,000 rupees. At the last count, more than a million of such toilets for homes and institutions had been installed in India. Millions more need to be made operative, and urgently.

    Till we can draw a veil of privacy and dignity across the sight of Bharat Mata squatting to do her business, India will continue to broadcast a literally crap image of itself to the world and to ourselves, despite all the credit we lay claim to for our social and economic progress.

    In the end it adds up, precisely, to a load of shit.

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    • A load of shit indeed! Nepal has a lot of the same problems but on a much smaller scale. I’ve heard it called “India Lite” …. but ultimately its heading in the same direction with the expotential population growth going on.

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