'Silent Saturdays' by Mumbai college students for causes

  • Nisha Shroff, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 19, 2014 20:05 IST

Silence was the medium, placards the prop, when a group of 40 college students took to the streets of Marine Drive and Nariman Point to create awareness about road safety on Saturday.

Without a spoken word, holding placards, they urged motorists to strap on seat belts, wear helmets.

Initiated by students of Jai Hind College, this road safety drive was part of a larger campaign called Silent Saturdays, through which the students aim to address four issues — smoking, eve-teasing, road safety and terrorism — over five consecutive Saturdays this month.

Since November 1, through this Gandhian-style campaign, the students have been taking up one social cause everySaturday and campaigning around it actively for the rest of the week.

“The idea is to change people’s mind set,” says Neeraj Kabra, 19, student and president of Jai Hind College’s Rotaract Club. “Such campaigns can also encourage more and more youngsters to help bring about a change, and boost their confidence to support what is right and raise their voices against what is not.”

So far, over the past three Saturdays, the Silent Saturday team has gathered around smokers to discourage them from smoking in public places, launched a silent rally to protest against eve-teasing, and promoted road safety via placards and posters.

“We stood by the zebra crossing, allowing motorists to read our messages while the signal went red,” says Unnati Gala, 18, a Class 11 Arts student at Jai Hind College, and the community service director of the campaign.

For the eve-teasing campaign, the students started off from their college campus and by the time they reached Marine Drive, about 50 passers-by had joined them.

“Every girl deserves respect, dignity and safety. And the cause of women’s safety requires actions, not words,” says Gala. “We did exactly that. Instead of simply talking, we decided to act upon it through a silent rally, holding placards with messages like ‘She is a girl not an object’; ‘Don’t ask your daughters to dress properly, ask your sons to behave’.” The underlying idea of the campaign is to not offend people verbally.

“For the anti-smoking campaign, we silently walked around smokers, holding our posters, until they gave up,” says Kabra. “Many dropped their cigarettes, but some got outraged too.”

One smoker, says Kabra, by a prominent hotel, took the group to a nearby police station, saying they were not allowed to stop the smokers. “However, the police maintained that smoking in public places is a punishable offence, and supported the campaign. We are glad that they supported us.”

Next Saturday, the group will take up the fourth and final cause of spreading anti-terrorism messages around CST station. On November 29, the team will conclude the campaign with an analysis of all the four issues that they approached, and by forming a human chain at Marine Drive.

Student Speak
Using placards and posters, we want to challenge mindsets. through ‘silent saturdays’, we want to encourage youngsters to help bring about change by supporting what is right and objecting against what is not - Neeraj Kabra, 19, student and president of Jai Hind College’s Rotaract Club

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