A team of anonymous do-gooders are transforming the rubbish-laden areas of Bangalore in an effort to change attitudes about waste disposal and promote a sense of civic duty in all citizens.
Remember how Shakespeare wrote that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? Well, you may want to hold on to that sweet-scented rose to placate you as you attempt to get your head around the title of Bangalore-based organisation, The Ugly Indian.
This covert group of anonymous civic activists work to ameliorate urban areas buried under rubbish. The name is a cheeky reference to the somewhat apathetic behaviour of large parts of society when it comes to keeping urban areas rubbish-free and enjoyable. According to the group’s philosophy, trash-laden footpaths are not just the bi-product of poor policy and legislation and are largely a result of local attitudes and behaviours towards waste management. The underlying solution? Behaviours and attitudes can be changed.
The Ugly Indians (their words, not ours) take a “lead by example” approach. Each week, they choose an area in Bangalore in need of a clean-up, whether it is a stretch of road littered with junk, vandalised and heavily stained walls or roads rife with potholes and go about cleaning up the area, pockets of activity which are called “spot-fixing”. To date, they have spot-fixed more than one hundred locations in Bangalore and have demonstrated that clean streets do lie within the hands of citizens, with scores of volunteers turning out each time with facemasks, gloves and rubbish bags.
The group work with little-to-no-budget and assess each area thoroughly before deciding on the appropriate course of action. The team behind the Ugly Indian are adamant about safeguarding this as a movement of the people, neglecting to accept funding as it would mean attaching an outside logo or brand to the cause (companies interested in sponsoring can opt to provide skilled labour as volunteers). Working under a cloak of anonymity, the Ugly Indians are able to ensure that the focus, both media and public, is therefore on the work and the results achieved, rather than on any one shining star.
Their Facebook page and YouTube channel are bursting with videos the group has made which depict the clean-up of areas from start to finish, beginning with shots of the selected location and passers by ignoring the rubbish, leading to images the Ugly Indians transforming the area and finishing with shots of pedestrians returning to the location and being mindful of how they treat the area.
The Bard was right—regardless of moniker, the work of this organisation continually comes up roses.
Author: Anna Rees/ RESET editorial