Mumbai: 20-year-old girl starts anti-spitting campaign, spreads awareness with love

Updated: 16 November, 2018 20:35 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

Anti-spitting campaign led by 20-year-old Neha Nambiar on Sunday was aimed at spreading awareness with love

Neha Nambiar, Rohan Bontra and Shreya Nair handing a rose to a rickshaw driver at SV-Linking Road junction. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Neha Nambiar, Rohan Bontra and Shreya Nair handing a rose to a rickshaw driver at SV-Linking Road junction. Pic/Bipin Kokate

It is not often that you see a group of enthusiastic youngsters gather by a busy traffic junction, in coordinated outfits on a Sunday evening for a social cause. And, somewhere in the sea of white T-shirts and jeans is a large pink bucket filled with red roses. The group huddles as Neha Nambiar, 20, briefs them in detail on their task for the next two hours. There are five signals at the SV-Linking Road junction in Bandra. where rickshaws and taxis stop at each for roughly 30 seconds. That's the time the volunteers pick up a bunch of roses and start a conversation with the driver on a taboo topic — spitting. "But please don't disrupt traffic as a result," Nambiar cautions.

The 30 volunteers are divided into five groups to occupy each signal, and collect their roses and stickers, along with placards that read, "Ghar mein nahin toh bahar kyun?" — all arranged for by Nambiar and her family. "I conceptualised the campaign only a month back to primarily target habitual spitters. The issue irks all of us. In 2015, Maharasthra became the first state to get an anti-spitting law, but when it was finally enacted in 2018, the fine was fixed at only Rs 150, without community service as prescribed earlier. And, we're a nation with the highest rate of tuberculosis," Nambiar, a journalism student, says.

With the support of Rohan Bontra, 21, and her cousin Shreya Nair, 16, the volunteers are from different parts of the city — Nair herself has come from Airoli. Reactions from drivers are mixed — some accept the rose, and allow the volunteers to paste stickers on vehicles, while some turn hostile, and ask why rickshaw and taxi drivers are targetted. Others are pessimistic. "How can you expect to change a habit? You can show them a mirror, but they still won't feel shame," says driver Dinesh Tiwari.

Volunteer Asawari Vedak, 19, explains the campaign's focus with, "We have to take into account the feasibility of the initiative. As we are strapped for time, they are easier to approach cars with their windows down," she says. And, Nambiar plans to take this up on a larger scale to broaden the reach. "In the future, we'll try to tie up with corporates to find a temporary solution of perhaps making vehicle-friendly spittoons." And, at the end of the day, all 300 roses have been distributed, with hope that they truly mean something to those who received them.

Rs 4k
Amount Neha Nambiar spent on the campaign

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First Published: 12 November, 2018 19:57 IST

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