Monday Truclusions – Challenging The Status Quo For The Betterment Of The Society

Monday Truclusions - Ashwin Karthik Caricature

Challenging the status quo is something most fear to do, because most of us do not want to step out of our comfort zone. We even get into a zone in which we convince ourselves that nothing can change, and the suffering that we go through because of the status quo is something we are destined for.

But there are few champions who show the courage to stand against all odds, be the change makers and solve not only their own problems but even the challenges faced by others.

Seeking Gems From The Slums

Let us talk about few such heroes in this week’s Monday Truclusions. Recently when I had been to Mumbai for a conference, there was a session in which the speaker narrated an instance about an area of Mumbai called Dharavi. Dharavi is the world’s largest slum; a place with a whole lot of garbage, dirt and scum that you can imagine. Kids witness things there that they cannot even comprehend at their tender ages. But as they say, rays of light are born from the womb of darkness.

In 2014, a group of few educated and socially aware people opened a learning centre in Dharavi. The primary intention of the group was to create awareness in the locality about cleanliness and to recycle trash.

Soon the locals, a few if not all, began to realize the importance of recycling and cleanliness. Some even began to explore ways of earning a livelihood out of recycled products.

One such incident was when a girl was coming back from school. She saw a woman throwing trash in public. The girl requested the woman to throw the garbage in the dustbin. But the woman rudely responded by saying that if the girl had a problem with her dirtying the public place, she herself could pick it up and deposit it wherever she wanted to. The girl, very humbly, did exactly did the same and cleared the place. The next day the same woman was transformed. Since that day, she never threw trash on the road and dropped all the garbage in the designated place.

Breeding Tech Experts From Dharavi

But that is not all, the learning centre soon introduced computers in Dharavi that could help the people to improve their lives, and even inspire others to change for the better. The kids and teenagers of the place were introduced to the latest technology. Gradually, they even turned into expert programmers.

The kids now not only code but are capable of building applications on their own. They have built multiple applications and have received great public response. A few applications that they have built include an emergency help app for the safety of women and an app which intimates the concerned people to clear trash anywhere in Mumbai, if it is being deposited at inappropriate places.

Temple Run At Subrahmanya

One more instance I personally witnessed the status quo being challenged successfully was during my recent trip to the nooks and corners of Karnataka. My travel was about 1000 km long, during which I went to quite a few legendary temples. If you remember my visit to Trimbakeshwar temple in Nasik, during my road trip to Gujarat, I had shared how difficult it was for my family to get me a sight of the deity in the temple. The situation was not too different this time around. We first visited the Subrahmanya Temple, which was too crowded, and a ritual that has to be religiously followed there is for men to remove their shirts.

As usual the temple wasn’t wheelchair friendly. My brother and Bharath had to carry me amidst the stampeding crowd, and before that they had to remove my shirt. On a lighter note, I got an opportunity to show off my now-growing biceps and six packs! But on a serious note, this wasn’t easy. So after the visit to the temple at Subrahmanya, we decided I wouldn’t be going inside the temple at Dharmasthala.

Welcome Developments At Dharmasthala Temple

In all my temple visits across the length and breadth of the country I have always visualised the use of technology to ease the difficulty and challenges people with disabilities face during their visits to such heritage sites. But sadly no government or any agency had done nothing in this regard. That fact always disappointed me. I always wondered that though I’m lucky enough to have a strong support system, what about those who don’t have such support. Their only support is the almighty, but they find it difficult even to find peace in the abode of the creator!

My mind wandered thinking about this, but when we reached the main entrance of the temple, everyone in my family were surprised at the sight that unfolded before us. We saw a designated staff guiding an old man to an automated chair, which would safely transport the person to the inside of the temple that was at a height of a dozen steep steps. Though the inner sanctum is still inaccessible for wheelchair users, I only had to walk about 100-200 metres for the ‘darshan’.

I was happy that the main trustee, a legendary visionary, the great Virendra Hegde had successfully implemented the first step towards automating the visit into the entire temple. Dharmasthala is one of the most technologically advanced temple I have been to. It must have been a great challenge for him and his team to challenge the status quo against the social stigma and the strong belief that the society lives with.

But I believe if you have good intent, then the universe conspires to help you achieve your aim. Isn’t it?

Liked reading this? Then you might also like to read Monday Truclusions – Exploring The Wonders That Faith Can Do

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Ashwin Karthik is the first quadriplegic cerebral palsy student to bag an engineering degree in India. In spite of having his share of misfortune that affected all his limbs since birth, Ashwin is blessed with a positive attitude and an undying spirit in life. He is a very talented poet and loves tackling impossible challenges. Ashwin has 3 role models in life- his mother, Sachin Tendulkar, and Stephen Hawkings. Currently, he works in ANZ as a Business Analyst, strives to bring awareness for an inclusive society, and wants to achieve at least a fraction of what Sachin has done for the spirit of his countrymen!