Submitted by admin on Mon, 10/16/2017 - 12:24

S Yesudas, MD & Co-Founder, triggerbridge takes a look back at the unfortunate Mumbai stampede and says how smalls acts of everyday kindness can help in avoiding incidents like these


MD & Co-founder, triggerbridge

My younger daughter Tanushka and I had gone to our house help, Meena’s home in Navi Mumbai on the last day of Navaratri – our annual ritual - to pray and bid goodbye to Goddess Durga. Meena has never been to school, but my family members have taught her to read and write.

Now, she even reads a newspaper! Meena and her elder sister, who hasn’t attended school either, were our hostesses. The conversation inevitably veered to the news of the day, i.e, the Elphinstone Road railway overbridge stampede. “Uncle, we human beings have just become so crazy. We just don’t care for one another. And we are so self-centered and impatient. Else, this incident could have been avoided,” declared Meena. My head was buzzing with all the screaming headlines, giving the incident various political colours. And here was Meena and her family, who could actually be influenced by noises around, with an absolutely different perspective!

I started looking at some data, which revealed a steady increase in the number of people migrating to other places in the country. Currently, there are approximately 350 million migrants in India. Maharashtra received the highest number of migrants (around 8.3 million). The reasons recorded are - 15% for work, 40% marriage, business, education, etc. Rural to urban migration is around 12%. This means, around a million people could have migrated to Mumbai during the last Census. Going by these numbers, plus the many more that will be added to the commuting population each year, no matter how broad the bridges are, they will still be inadequate. I’m not for a minute saying that the bridges shouldn’t be broadened. But, I couldn’t agree more with Meena and her sister when I saw visuals of unkind people refusing to get wet in the rains blocking off the exit and others trampling over fellow humans who were gasping for breath, without any care.

As someone said, we are like ‘mustard seeds in hot oil’. We erupt. We are quick to press the share button and spread rumours. We don’t know how to give, receive or even reciprocate a greeting. We look through people. We are stressed, we are angry, we are abusive, we are ill mannered and we call ourselves human!

Away from all the political noise, I decided to visit the KEM Hospital the day after the incident to see if could do anything for the families who have gone into darkness. While I managed to inspire a small group of people to support the efforts, I wished the news headlines made people donate blood rather than make blood boil through provocation. I had conceived an idea - happy news - last year and went after TV channels, which claimed they had some ‘purpose’, and also brands, which stood for ‘happiness’ for support. It still remains a concept, however well thought through. Without getting disappointed and giving up on my efforts, I managed to get together a few friends and we embarked on small initiatives like thanking people who serve us, like the police force. I’ve experienced amazing results with even these small gestures. If we can set aside just a wee bit of our time to make a conscious effort to smile at others, whether on the pavements, crowded trains, buses, stations, elevators; spread warmth, even in written mails, greet people on our timelines on their special days, think before spreading rumours… if brand owners can use 2% of their transactional advertising investments to look at people who pull out money from their wallets to buy those products as their ambassadors and ad agencies can help guide these clients on prudent use of that 2% absolutely selflessly, I think we will all be contributors to creating a land where various elements of empathy will get beautifully tied into each other through knots of human thinking, emotions and kindness.

And people will travel together in comfort even in crowded trains and still manage to move through narrow bridges, smiling at each other. We will never have an incident of this nature, as the care for one another will far outweigh the sporadic noises being made by a few mustard seeds in hot oil.



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