Exclusive

Meet The 24-Year-Old Who Is On A Mission To Make Shillong A Litter-Free City

Arunima Bhattacharya

July 4th, 2017

SHARES

Cleanliness, they say, is closely linked to godliness. What would be a better way of showing love and belief in the Almighty than by keeping one’s surroundings clean and sanitised?

In an exclusive interview with Nangjop Dhabah from Shillong, The Logical Indian brings forward the story of a how an individual took it upon himself the task of keeping his surroundings clean by starting a mission named #NoLitterShillong. Nangjop has shared his experience and talked of what had motivated him to start with this mission in the first place.


Nangjop cleaning the streets of his locality with his kid companion

How it all started

After being appalled by the sanitation conditions in his neighbourhood for some time, Nangjop thought it was best that he took up the job of cleaning on his shoulders.

The 24-year-old is an amiable personality. When asked what motivated him to champion the cause of cleanliness, he modestly replied, “Well, I don’t know if I have actually ‘championed’ the cause, but honestly, I have tried my best to make a difference.”

“I firmly believe in the proverb: ‘Charity begins at home’. It is this thought that had prompted me to take up this initiative,” said Nangjop.

Nangjop’s mother has been a great source of inspiration for him. “She is a school principal, and I have seen her work relentlessly for the cause of the underprivileged. I have often thought to myself that I should follow her footsteps and that catapulted me towards this mission,” he said.

He was deeply concerned about the abysmal state of littering in his neighbourhood, Jaiaw Laitdom and felt it was the need of the hour to think seriously about the problem. Along with his neighbour, who was a kid, and his sister with a camera on the tow, Nangjop decided it was the right time to plunge into the root of the problem and make a difference.


#NoLitterShillong campaign in progress

Nangjop’s experience at the grass-roots level

“I shall not lie, I get infuriated when I see people behaving irresponsibly and throwing litter all over the city,” Nangjop admitted. “Cars driving through the roads often throw plastic bottles and leftovers on the roads, this is something unacceptable,” he said.

Nangjop realised waiting for someone to de-litter the city is futile. “So, I bought myself a pair of latex gloves and a bucket and started the job myself.”

“It is tough to understand who is responsible for littering the city. One should not always blame the tourists for making Shillong dirty. The place where I live is a residential complex, but the problem of littering is no less in this area – so why to blame the tourists alone?” he said. 

Nangjop’s reaction to the problem of litter in Shillong prompted an immediate question: Isn’t Shillong known to be one of the cleanest cities in India?

“That is a kind of a misnomer for Shillong, I have seen it through my own eyes, and the problem is as burning in Shillong as in any other city of India,” he said candidly.

Shillong has been growing as a major city in the Northeast, and the process of urbanisation has had its own set of disadvantages – persistent littering in the city is one of them. Nangjop opined, “It is important to prick the bubble that Shillong is a clean city.” 


Making people aware of the consequences of littering

Striving for a sense of fulfilment

Nangjop has recently completed his post graduation in Shillong. He is a student of Mass Communications and has graduated from the Madras Christian College. He said, “The one thing that I have noticed down south is that people there have a greater civic sense when compared to the rest of India. I have read about groups getting together to clean a particular area or reclaim a lake – I think we should take a cue from them and use that for our areas.”

He had taken up a job as a graphic designer in a firm in Shillong, but Nangjop was not happy with what he was doing.

“I felt there was no direction in what I was doing, I was unable to contribute to the society. I wanted to do something productive and hence decided to quit my job,” he said.

When asked if he was happy with what he was doing now, Nangjop readily said, “Oh yes! I am pleased that I took the decision of leaving my job and got involved with this mission wholeheartedly. These days, I feel, I have a sense of purpose in my life.”

Nangjop acknowledged that he has been getting a lot of help from social media. “It is a great platform to grab the attention of the ordinary people. Campaigns like that of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan have gained a lot of momentum because of social media coverage. But I do not want my drive to be a one-off incident, I sincerely hope that I can carry this forward for the longest time possible,” he said with determination.


The youth being sensitised about the ‘no-litter’ campaign

The future of his mission

Nangjop is excited about what he is doing and has made plans for taking this mission forward. “Ideally, I want more and more people to come forward and join this cause. I have started a hashtag with the name #AdoptANeighbourhood, where each can adopt an area and work for the betterment of that place,” he said excitedly.

“As more and more people get involved in this, the mission will automatically go to a bigger and larger scale through the synergy of the works of all of us,” he added.

Since his initiative is still in the nascent stage, Nangjop has a lot to work on. However, he said, “The social media has been of immense help to popularise what I have been doing. Recently, I got to know of a similar cleaning drive that has been carried out in a University in Shillong who has made use of my hashtags. Knowing that I can make some difference feels good.”

On being asked about the reception of his efforts, Nangjop said, “Well, the reactions have been mixed. There have been some people who have come forward and appreciated my efforts. That bears a lot of significance for me. But, I must say, I have encountered many individuals who feel it is not our job to keep the city clean.”

“I am also of the opinion that municipal authorities need to do their work. But if they are not doing so, it is important for us commoners to take up the responsibility on our shoulders and work towards it,” he added.

Nangjop is against the cynicism that people have for his work and for efforts like that in general. “It is easy to point a finger at someone, the apathy that people have towards public property is not correct,” he added.

Nangjop draws inspiration from Afroz Shah, the man who was behind the cleaning up of Versova Beach in Mumbai and wishes to bring about a positive change in his hometown. He said, “This mission has steered my life in the right direction – I have made a promise to myself that I shall work on this as long as I can.”


Nangjop with his entire team

The Logical Indian community congratulates the 24-year-old on the commendable feat that he has achieved. It is inspiring to see young minds like Nangjop thinking seriously about the future of the country and dedicate their lives for the betterment of the society. We wish him all the best for his future endeavours and hope that he continues inspiring many more.

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