As more Indians travel the world and their country's growing economy and population gain more global attention, they are increasingly embarrassed about one of India's dirtiest features: its cities.

It is not uncommon to see piles of putrefying garbage lying along the streets in front of fancy glass-fronted malls, luxury car showrooms or the gates of exclusive neighborhoods. Just as common is the sight of Indians walking past the smelly heaps, covering their noses with the edge of their saris or handkerchiefs and waving the flies away.

Many Indians routinely chuck empty cigarette packs, plastic wrappers or cans from their cars. Even religious sites often dump waste. Open, stinking drains in residential neighborhoods choke with household trash.