For Tata Tea Jaago Re

Many protested against unsafe cities, one person decided to bring a change

By HT Brand Studio | Feb 14, 2017

SOURCE: Tata Tea

Alarm Bajne Se Pehle, Jaago Re

Anyone who has snoozed the alarm one too many times, and then missed a crucial flight, must be familiar with how no amount of pleas, threats, or arguments before the airline staff can reverse your fortunes once the plane has taken off. What's harder still is shaking off that sense of regret for the rest of the day — the one where you wish you'd woken up just 15 minutes earlier.

Making Our Cities Liveable, Safer and Child-Friendly

Meet Manju George, working with ESAF's Liveable City Project, enabling to bring about more open spaces, playgrounds and safer streets in our cities. Liveable City Project is aimed at improving the liveability of cities, currently in function in Kerala, Nagpur and Bangalore.

While many of us sit back and moan at the crumbling infrastructure of our cities, and live helplessly from one day to another, one person rose to the occasion.

She didn't just complain, she's bringing concrete changes to the future of our cities. She's working daily to improve the living conditions of the elderly, the young and the masses at large.

While many of us simply crib about the decaying civic infrastructure, she's the one who's improving the future of our cities.

Their vision hopes to achieve: "Happy and healthy children and families in every neighbourhood who have safe streets, free access to parks, playgrounds, open space and fun places to play around."

A look at some of their main programmes:


SOURCE: Tata Tea

Organizing open street events (like Cycle Day) have turned many neighbourhood streets to be a space for children to play, be physically active, spend quality time with their family once a month etc.

A movement to create safe, convenient and enjoyable opportunities for children to cycle or walk to school.


Working with local communities and resident associations to demand, reclaim public spaces and make it functional. For instance, working on abandoned spaces and converting them into playgrounds.

Manju's beginnings with ESAF and Liveable Cities

I am a professional Psychiatric Social Worker from NIMHANS who worked in various clinical settings in South India. After moving to Bangalore, I joined ESAF India (Evangelical Social Action Forum). ESAF at that time was looking for someone who can start their liveable city programs in Bangalore.

Liveable city program was a new concept then and not many people were convinced about what we can do. Slowly things started changing and people started having confidence in us.

Last year I was listed as one among the 50 women change makers in the city by a media agency.

SOURCE: Tata Tea

On making cities safer, liveable and child-friendly

I started as a Project Coordinator in Bangalore in 2008 and initiated the program in Bangalore. We started with City wide research to find how friendly Bangalore is for children and we did mapping of public spaces in the city. Based on these studies we initiated Parks and Public Space program, Active and Safe Route to School program and Healthy Transportation, to encourage children and their parents for a safe and healthy commute and a way of life.

I guide my team, train them to effectively advocate with Governments, different stakeholders and communities. I also attend various national and international conferences where we can spread the message of our work.

Getting past people's doubts and building the public faith

Initial challenge was to build the credibility of ESAF in Bangalore as we were new to the city. Since this was a new concept, finding like-minded organizations and individuals was another challenge. Not many people were ready to associate with us as they doubted about the success of the program.

SOURCE: Tata Tea

Complaining alone won't help: Manju's message to masses

People should organize to get things done as complaining alone won't help most of the times. We have a responsibility towards the community which we should fulfil before complaining. When we use a car to go to a shop that's 100 meters away, complaining about traffic jam or pollution doesn't make sense.

It is always better to have a collective effort to get things done. What's stopping us from working with likeminded organisations and communities? This is important when you work with the Government as they show interest only when they see a critical and concentrated mass behind the move. And of course, collective efforts help sustain the spirit and effort in the long run.

If we are persistent enough things will fall in place. You may have to keep changing the strategy but be persistent with your efforts and there will be results.

Tags #JaagoreTata Teasafe citiesESAFManju George