Self-Proclaimed “Ugly Indians” Take a Stand to Beautify India’s Streets

by Ekua on April 28, 2011 in India,inspiring adventurous people

In India, I encountered a lot of Indians who would like to see India as what it has the potential to become rather than what it is right now. I also met a lot of Indians who seemed to truly want outsiders to enjoy their time in India and see the merits of their country. These are not abnormal things to want for your country, but in India, I encountered these desires with an intensity I had yet to experience.

So what happens when you talk about those desires realistically and use action to move towards ensuring that they are fulfilled?  A website called The Ugly Indian is beginning to come up with some of the answers as they pertain to one of India’s most visible issues: its excessive filth. I came across the site through the Bangalore-based blogger Aliyeh of A Turquoise Cloud. Don’t let the name The Ugly Indian mislead you — the organization is anything but ugly.

They use a mixture of unfiltered honesty and optimism to address and begin to tackle the filth in India. It was created by a group of Indians in Bangalore who have:

  • Acknowledged that filth that pervades India’s cities.
  • Addressed a tendency for Indians to ignore or gloss over the abundance filth.
  • Stepped off their soapboxes and taken small steps to beautify city streets using low cost, low impact, and self-sustaining methods.
  • Gotten positive results from their efforts, documented the process, and tracked the results.
  • Shared their ideas with people with hope that it will influence others to change their attitudes about waste disposal and general city upkeep.

A common theme in most of the example cases on the site is the idea that beauty begets beauty. The simple addition of plants and a new coat of paint in a certain spot makes people less likely to toss their trash or urinate in there and more likely to want to keep it clean so that they and others can enjoy it. It may seem too easy to be true, but in certain spots, its been working for months at a time.

While it seems that The Ugly Indian’s efforts thus far are heavily focused enhancing outer appearances, the people behind it seem to be aware of the importance of India’s need to build the right infrastructure to implement change on a larger scale and maintain the change. They are trying to get there little by little.

I hope that there are more successes ahead for the people behind The Ugly Indian. I hope that their grassroots ideas work their way around the globe and influence people in other countries that also struggle with filth. I hope that their name becomes obsolete.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures April 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I too hope it becomes obsolete as well! This is a mighty big challenge and I wish them all the best!!!

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Ekua April 28, 2011 at 9:59 pm

“Mighty big challenge” is right. The magnitude of the waste the world produces is pretty insane. It’s hidden here in the States but in India and other places, it’s all out there for everyone to see. I’m curious to see if over time the organization will try to tackle waste from start to finish.

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Naomi April 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm

This was really good to read. Bottom-up efforts by local communities to address local problems are always so inspiring!!

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Ekua April 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Yup, it’s really nice to see the change coming from within the community. I think people are more likely to respond positively to their efforts because of that!

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