Let’s make our beloved Dhaka liveable

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Be a better Bangladeshi starting today

Every year, some international organizations routinely release their reports on the most and the least liveable cities around the world. Unfortunately, Dhaka always tops the list of the least liveable cities. 

It gives us all a temporary topic to be busy about in social media and mainstream media. 

In social media, people lament over this fact — some find it to be amusing, and others use it as an argument for their case of why one should immigrate to the West as early as possible. 

Going through all of them, it seems as if Dhaka is a human entity who itself is responsible for such shabby condition — its dwellers never had anything to do with it. 

Is it really the case that Dhaka is making itself dirty all on its own? 

Looking at those liveability rankings from a different viewpoint I sometimes wonder, is it Dhaka which is least liveable, or does it just have the worst of the people in the world living in it, who are hardly ready to accept that the problem lies within and so does the solution? 

The capital city of a country can often be juxtaposed with the cover of a book. Being a book geek, I can tell, many times I have put down new books just by looking at the cover page, and it happens the other way around too. 

When a foreigner visits Dhaka for the first time, it can create an image of the whole of Bangladesh in a negative way very easily. 

He or she might not want to visit the longest sea beach or the largest mangrove forest in the world anymore based on his or her first impression. I’m leaving the above scenarios up to the subjective judgment of individuals. 

There are a good number of organizations that are trying to clean the city by themselves. But what happens next? Some of those “worst” dwellers I mentioned above come and throw trash at those very spots casually, which were cleaned by some good souls hours back. 

All I’m saying here is, from my first-hand experience of seeing these incidents taking place, and when trying to protest about it becomes a quarrel, is that nobody is ready to admit the actual fact. 

Maybe you are just callous or waiting for your air ticket which will take you to Melbourne or Frankfurt, but why ruin others initiatives of turning Dhaka into a better city? 

Trying to analyze the psyche of our people not only does baffle me, but it also creates some anger deep inside too. 

It’s too easy to blame the government, we all know that. But the thing is, the government hasn’t restricted us from carrying our trash for some time and find a suitable place where they can be thrown. 

I never ask people anything that I myself don’t do. So what I suggested above is more than possible for any individual, it’s something subtle but if every one of us did it, you would see a revolution in Dhaka. 

Can you just visualize a morning when you go on a walk and you see no trash in any of the streets of Dhaka? 

Another thing that I have never found an answer to is, why do people express their anger so vigorously when 20 minutes of rain causes flooding in Dhaka roads? 

During normal days when these angry people throw their chip packets, plastic bottles, cans, etc at random places with reluctance, where do they really think the trash will go? Vaporize automatically? 

I would like to request everyone to just think for once about the 400 years of the rich history of Dhaka, not too many cities are blessed to have such historical and cultural heritage. 

Don’t you think we are abusing and torturing it in the worst possible way? Many of your small actions and their collective effect can bring about a tremendous change. 

If you have ever had any emotion for Dhaka, please change yourself from today, and save our beloved capital city Dhaka from getting even worse. 

Ratnadeep Toorja is a freelance contributor.