Small Steps Big Leaps



Given the poor infrastructure of rescue and relief in disaster-struck areas, a woman has taken it upon herself to equip volunteers with basic first aid knowledge. Dr Rita Savla’s initiative was triggered when she witnessed a nine-month-old baby lose her limbs in the 2001 Kutch disaster. A homeopath based out of Mumbai, Savla is now an active member of Relief and Awareness for Disaster Management Health Education Environment Foundation. her task is to teach police constables, station masters, shoeshine boys and porters the basics of first aid. The organisation primarily focuses on railways, given the high frequency of rail track accidents. Having trained 30 volunteers at each station on the Western Railway line, she intends to extend the training programme to Central Railway routes.


Long before the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan was announced by the pm, three young electrical engineers took up a similar task in mission mode. Debartha Banerjee, Jayanth Nataraju and Ritvik Rao, who joined the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 2010, came up with the idea of Sampurn(e)arth while they were enrolled in a social entrepreneurial course. Sampurn(e)arth, they explain, embodies their vision to create purposeful endeavours which benefit both the planet and its economy. At first, they collaborated with several NGOs for waste management and sanitation but were deeply disappointed with the negligible impact this made. Then they started providing customised waste management to corporates such as Tata Power, Axis Bank, TCS and L&T, educational institutes, housing complexes and the municipal corporation. They have since been helping clients reduce losses through recycled goods and boast of having 75 clients in their green initiative.


despair can destroy one’s spirit when one’s source of income is snatched away. For Nagaraj, 52, formerly a painter by profession, the lowest point of his life came when a fall from a two-storey building made him a paraplegic. Thinking there was no other option, he resorted to begging outside the Ayyapam temple in Chennai and resigned himself to a life of indignities. That was until a group of students from Kaligi Ranganathan Montford (KRM) School came to the rescue. They rehabilitated him by arranging a small snacks stall on a busy street. Though Nagaraj claims begging garnered as much as 300-400, enabling him to buy three good meals a day, and he now earns only 60-70 daily, he admits to being pleased with the respect he gains from being self-employed. The students have also taken it upon themselves to donate around 750-1,000 every month for stock replenishment and have bought him a tricycle so that he can move around the city easily.


With the government going digital, here is a man setting an example by putting the social media to efficient use. Kozhikode District Collector Prasanth Nair has created a Facebook page for open discussions regarding policies and projects for the betterment of the district. The Collector unfailingly responds to queries and complaints of his people and also discusses his ideas with them. Nair has spearheaded several projects towards better mental health and improvement of roads in the district. One of the noteworthy achievements from Nair’s initiatives is Operation Sulaimani. Started with the objective to end urban hunger, Operation Sulaimani was launched with the help of a few restaurants and the general public of the district. They distribute free food coupons to the poor at government offices and shops. The Sulaimani coupons, as they are called, can be exchanged for meals at any restaurant, provided it falls in Nair’s district.


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