It's not the usual route for a protest walk that ends with a sit-in and demonstration at Jantar Mantar. After the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2010 ended on Sunday, with the winners in different categories taking home big money, it was time for some conscious citizens and students to take to the same roads, with banners promoting a variety of causes.
Once the participants of the Great Delhi Run started trickling across the finish line slowly, more and more people marched along the route. Most of them were non-participants --- friends and family members of those running the race. Shivani, a 17-year-old, was wearing a bright orange t-shirt and waving a flag that read 'Save the Girl Child'. Another group of youngsters, dressed in red caps and red mini skirts, brandished placards on preventing female infanticide. Their vociferous chants did not go unnoticed with the audience there.
'Help the Blind', 'Justice for Rouvan', 'Stop corporal punishment in schools', USAID for preventing HIV/AIDS, 'Save the children', Child Fund, 'Ban smoking/ tobacco', India United for eradication of polio, Deepalaya, were only some of the numerous organizations and causes that were spoken about at the event.
Oxfam workers, in bright green t-shirts, gathered around for a debate and lecture. Nisha Agarwal, Oxfam India CEO, said, "We have 70 people with us who want to increase the level of society's participation and involvement in such affairs. Events like these give us a good platform to bring in more people together." Oxfam also saw corporate bodies like Accenture and Cox & Kings running on their behalf.
Save The Children, an independent organisation that works for child welfare, marked its presence with a signature campaign for child mortality. The body has been working in India for the past 60 years. "We are targetting signature and media campaigns, the internet and other media to get our message across. Having a huge gathering like this marathon always brings more attention," said a worker with the organisation.
Maybe the campaigners are now taking the beaten path as well.