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Mumbai’s ‘Batmen’

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The youth today are increasingly taking up social causes as themes for college projects to express their concerns and ideas, in a bid to improve life in Mumbai. Srishti Jain explores how the city’s young guns are taking matters into their own hands to tackle issues that are plaguing the city

The last week saw youngsters (on twitter) complain about the garbage littered everywhere, dumpsters overflowing, noise pollution caused by the persistent honking of commuters at every signal along with the increasing reports about accidents because of drinking and driving. Other hot topics included crass ‘Gaaliyan’ heard at every nook and corner. Mumbai truly sounded like an unending hell –hole for its inhabitants.

Abusing comes naturally to the average mumbaikar since we grow up in a high –stressed , multilingual, crass cosmopolitan where everyone from a rickshawala to the professor use the same harsh four letter words. “The name of our campaign is ‘Mind your Slanguage’ as students of journalism and advertising, we're now heading towards the corporate world that demands language to be refined. Since using abusive language is a matter of habit, this habit needs to be broken. Also it spreads a lot of negativity and causes more problems rather than solving anything. So through our initiative we are trying to curb this issue on a wider level,” says Sharleen Khosravi a Third year student from Jai Hind College. As a part of their campaign they have made use of popular memes like ‘Derp and derpina’, ‘Troll face’ and ‘Willy wonka’ to highlight their message against abusing.  Use of these online caricatures has caught the eyes of thousands of Facebook users who have signed a petition to support their cause.

We often abuse when we see open pot-holes and falling metro bridges showing an open display of unhygienic and corrupt state of affairs in our city. The monsoon especially turns Mumbai into a demonic garbage can with litter and muck, causing floods.

 “26th July 2006 is a date etched into every Mumbaikars mind. It is the day when floods stopped the entire city. It's been more than 6 years since that day and people seemed to have moved on pretty quickly, although a week ago a similar day of rain happened. Luckily the heavy showers lasted only one day, but we all knew what could have been. The gutters were again blocked with trash, and we were on the verge of another calamity. This is when we realized that it was our responsibility to take an initiative and we ended up launching the campaign ‘Mumbai’s Most Wanted’ which is an anti –littering initiative,” says Moin Shaikh a student from R.D. National College. He and his team have dedicated their week to instilling the necessity of a cleaner Mumbai in the minds of the citizens and have managed to record the oath of 600 Mumbaikars who have joined them in their endeavour.

 “People said they did not have the incentive to walk till a bin to throw their trash, so we provided them with one that rewarded every person who throws garbage in it. Every time you throw anything in a bin, the bin rewards you with a chocolate. This bin was instilled at Infinity Mall and was met with a tremendous response,” says Mr. Shaikh. The team also rummaged through the garbage collected and creatively channeled their energies to make fascinating outfits which they wore and went parading around the city in to create awareness about their cause for a day. The ‘Most Wanted’ team also used garbage to create music with junk instruments enthralling on-lookers at Mega mall with their tunes.

However not all sounds in this city are pleasant to hear. Standing at a traffic signal, a person from a village may almost cringe at the amount of noise that would burst out at him from all directions. “I have been driving my bike through the city for the past few years and every year the noise just seems to increase.

Sometimes the honking at a traffic signal is almost deafening. In order to bring about a change and turn down the city’s volume we decided to begin this campaign ‘Horn Rokiye Please’,” says Parvand Gandhi a BMM student in Mumbai. He and his team have dedicated their time to interacting with taxi and auto-rickshawala’s personally informing them about the ill effects of honking. These rickshaw and taxi drivers extended their hand of support by sticking the ‘Horn Rokiye Please’ logos and stickers on their vehicles. The Horn Rokiye Please team is also associated with the street school ‘Asha Kiran’ who help monitor the honking on the main road for a couple of hours. The team has also tied up with eateries like Wah Bollywood, Froyo, Yogurt Bay, a tattoo parlour called Tattoo Star and the theater ‘Movie Time- Suburbia’ who support this cause and have put up posters to create awareness.

Awareness doesn’t happen overnight and is often a relentless struggle before we see change in our society.  Taking the example of the great Bapu are the students of Wilson College who have adopted the Gandhian way of life in their initiative ‘Kachra Phek Tamasha Dekh’. “We are coaxing the public to litter and are giving them awards for the amount of garbage they throw. We have various awards in this category ‘Thukkan Badshah’ – for the person who spits the most,” ‘Kachra Shahansha’ – For the person who makes sure his litter always falls out of the box. We click pictures of these people when they are caught in the act and then walk up to them, give them a flower and say ‘Congratulations you have contributed in making this city a dirtier place’,” says Siddharth Aalambayan , a student of Wilson.  With the city’s youth so fired up to create a change and put a stop to the city’s menaces, one thing is for sure ‘Mumbai Surely Will be Gotham’ with so many ‘Batmen’ lurking around.

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