Mission Dignity underway

Perhaps this is why, regardless of his current status or personal fortune, Ratan Tata gets to stand first in every queue of Indian tycoons.

Recently the philanthropic-minded Tata was said to be so moved by a powerful photography project on the lives of the 38,000 conservancy workers who clean Mumbai’s sewers and manholes of its 7,000 tonnes of solid waste in hazardous conditions, that it spurred the former chairman of the Tata group to fund a massive project, in collaboration with the BMC, to improve the lives of these workers.

John Abraham, Mayor Snehal Ambekar and Sudharak Olwe at the book launch
John Abraham, Mayor Snehal Ambekar and Sudharak Olwe at the book launch

Titled In Search of Dignity and Justice The Untold Story of Conservancy Workers, this photo project by our former colleague, the award-winning photojournalist Sudharak Olwe prompted Tata to pen a strong note to his staff urging them to search for solutions to resolve the problem, triggering off a massive and multi-layered initiative now titled ‘Mission Garima’ (Mission Dignity).

Ratan Tata
Ratan Tata

“This collection of photos by Sudharak Olwe has been an eye-opener. It has captured and brought to our consciousness, the plight of a group of people we seem to have relegated to a collective blind-spot,” Tata had written in the book’s foreword.

Tata wasn’t alone in championing the cause. Actor John Abraham who, along with Mumbai’s Mayor Snehal Ambekar and Additional BMC Commissioner Dr Sanjay Mukherjee, released the book last week was particularly moved by the dismal plight of conservancy workers and pledged his commitment to them.

“It’s a sorry fact that we cannot provide these workers with some basic dignity of labour. I will do my bit as an actor and lend this cause my full support,” said the actor.

Stalwart and freedom fighter honoured
“Dad was invited to the GPO on Republic Day to release a stamp on the Quit India movement!”

It was our friend Sonal Shah, the writer and aesthete, telling us about her father, 90-year-old Dr GG Parikh, who, besides being a renowned doctor had also been a distinguished freedom fighter, philanthropist and civil rights activist.

Sonal Shah with father Dr GG Parikh
Sonal Shah with father Dr GG Parikh

“Dad had been present at the Gowalia Tank on the day when Gandhiji announced the Quit India movement,” said Shah. And unsurprisingly, the stalwart and humanist who bears a striking resemblance to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the ‘Frontier Gandhi’, chose the occasion to speak about his long cherished values.

“He spoke of how unity in diversity is ingrained in his heart and people who fought for freedom in his generation could never imagine an India where Christians or Muslims or Parsis were not an integral part of this country,” said Shah, adding, “I love my dad for his kind heartedness and generosity of spirit but above all, for his deep commitment to progressive, human values.”

Russell Peters comes to town. Again
It appears Mumbai can’t get enough of them larfs. Hardly has the buzz around the super hit AIB roast of Ranveer and Arjun died down when we hear Indo-Canadian funny man Russell Peters will be in the city next month. “Yes, Russell is back in Mumbai early next month. He will be performing at the NSCI in Worli and we are expecting a packed audience on both nights,” said a source.

Russell Peters
Russell Peters

The last time Peters came to the city, we attended the gig in BKC and even while we gasped and giggled along with the crowd, we recall our reporter’s eye couldn’t help scouring the crowd to see if the Thackerays, said to be big fans and present in the audience, took umbrage at Russell’s irreverence and cried foul.

They didn’t. Whew!

This is ME
There was a time when Bolly stars lived two separate lives. There was their public existence with glamorous outings and appearances and there was their private lives, the ones only close friends and family got to see.

Esha Gupta. Pic/Instagram
Esha Gupta. Pic/Instagram

But today, thanks to social media and 24X7 news coverage, the game appears to have changed with stars like Deepika Padukone courageously leading the way, sharing stories about themselves that do not promote perfection.

In this vein, our attention was pleasantly drawn to former Kingfisher model and actress Esha Gupta who, along with a picture of herself in an avatar that fans usually don’t get to see, recently posted: # nofilter this is who I m, this is how I was born, makeup free, Botox free, surgery free. Yes I have dark circles, yes I have a mark, yes I have a lot of flaws. But beauty lies in imperfection Being perfect is boring, haters can hate all they want, I m who I m.


Mumbai’s famous heart
Any more evidence required of Mumbai’s big, ever lovin’ heart? A few weeks ago we had written a story in another section of this paper about ‘The Cat Lady of Cumballa Hill’, the good Samaritan who travelled a great distance each day to feed the area’s hungry stray cats, regardless of her own limited means.

Gayatri Lagade
Gayatri Lagade

What we are happy to know is that compassion is not the monopoly of those who have little.

A few days ago, we received this delightful and exquisitely worded letter from a resident of the area trying to locate a lost stray.

“My wife and I feed stray cats daily at different spots on Peddar Road. It is possible that he may have made his way through the back of the building to Carmichael Road and cannot find his way back. My wife and I did have a look yesterday at part of Carmichael Road but no luck. Hence, would you kindly connect me to the lady you wrote about in your December 7 article so that I could request her to keep a look out for him?”

A couple of high-powered professionals in this busy, supposedly selfish city who are spending time and effort to trace a lost stray feline?

Ah, Mumbai, how do I love thee, let me count the ways...

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