Spitting nation

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Why do we spit so much? Our towns and villages are full of people chewing and spitting regularly. Uncontrolled spitting is the prime reason for the dirtiness and filthiness of our towns, villages, offices, markets, roads and our own houses. Chewing and spitting is our favourite pastime.

Many people chew paan, paan masala, gutkha, tobacco, etc. Men and women equally chew these items. Many people start chewing these items from early morning and continue throughout the day till they sleep. After chewing these items, people spit out the remnant/tainted juices thousands of times during the day. Imagine tens of thousands of people spitting thousands of times in our towns and villages.

Paan masala, gutkha and tobacco are sold in small sachets. After use, these sachets are thrown on the open roads, markets, etc. These sachets are non-biodegradable and are the root cause for clogging of our drains and sewages, which further leads to flooding and waterlogging, and are a source of many infectious diseases.

This bad habit of chewing and spitting has also infected many officers, educated persons, teachers, intellectuals and leaders. In fact, many of our houses and offices are designed with holes and special places to spit. Many officers have special buckets or spittoons in the offices. This bad habit has percolated down to young boys and girls also.

Most of our public facilities like banks, ATMs, hotels, toilets, shops, movie halls, etc, are full of reddish stains due to spitting. Corners of many buildings and staircases are covered with spit stains. To counter the spitting public, many owners have placed pictures of gods, religious figures at all corners.

Recent research indicates that the Northeast is the cancer capital of India. Many common cancers like mouth cancer, oral cancer and stomach cancer are caused by large-scale chewing of paan, paan masala, gutkha, tobacco, etc. In addition, public spitting is one of the main causes of the spread of infectious diseases, including Covid-19.

This habit of continuously chewing something in the mouth and spitting is mainly seen in South Asia. Most people outside the subcontinent do not carry this habit of chewing and spitting. In fact, spitting in public is generally looked down by many societies. In the armed forces and paramilitary forces, people found spitting in public are punished.

How do we eradicate this public menace? One way is by launching an awareness campaign about this dirty habit of chewing and spitting. Another would be to teach our students in schools and colleges about this menace. A law should be passed to fine persons found spitting in public places. Spitting in public places pollutes our towns, villages and markets, causes harm to others, and damages our own bodies, leading to dreaded diseases like cancer. Next time we see anyone spitting in public, we must tell them not to do so. Let’s stop spitting. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)