Saturday, 4 May 2013

The first "I am Strong" Walk

A group of self-motivated individuals assembled at Dilli Haat in the late evening hours on April 27, 2013 (Saturday) for the "I am Strong" Walk. The group walked from Dilli Haat to Lodi Gardens and beyond, with an unbiased outlook towards the immediate surroundings. The participants were regular individuals like you and me, with no "power" or authority in society, so called "common people". Based on introspection and general observation, important guidelines were kept in mind during the walk, the "Highlights" in the image below.

We reside in a city with certain expectations of safety, education, employment, etc, but we also need to be mindful of our share of responsibility. Most often we are particular about our rights, but the walk provided a platform to step out of our comfort zones and try to fulfill our duties in a more effective manner.

The sign-up sheet stating prerequisites for the walk. It's all in the mind-set and the determination.

It was a peaceful walk without any slogans or banners, keeping in mind not to cause inconvenience. We took a note of what we came across during the first walk: people, happenings, state of public amenities, and above all, our own attitude towards everything. It was followed by an extensive discussion and exchange of radical, path-breaking ideas on how ordinary individuals could create extraordinary impact through day-to-day efforts. The views are shared by the participants in the "comments" section. Planned through a Facebook event page, participation was coordinated by registering at the "I am Strong" Walk email ID.

As the Walk is currently in its nascent stage, the first round focused on making a genuine effort to understand and connect with our surroundings. When we use public or private transport to commute, there is a possibility to  overlook the happenings and state of things along the route. Often dismissed as traffic noise, we make all possible effort to shun the sounds and sights. But after all, you and i aroure the traffic. We and our vehicles are the noise. Wearing earphones while we walk around does keep out the unwanted sounds, but in the long run, it also reduces our capacity to tolerate and accept the sources of noise, by and large, the very elements of own society.

During the walk, we tried to keep our ears and eyes open. The aim was not to solve problems right away, but to begin with, at least figure out where the problems lie. And to find out ways where we could improve our attitude towards the surroundings. We analyzed our own level of sensitivity towards simple things: obeying traffic rules, taking care of public property, vandalism and maintaining cleanliness. Above all, staying alert, aware and feeling connected with the immediate environment. We wish to set a good example first for ourselves and feel accountable as good citizens.

The next Walk shall take place on 11th May, 2013. The place, time and route shall be communicated to those who wish to sign up by sending an email to (along with mobile no. and area of stay in New Delhi).

The placard during the walk...
We often feel insecure in the city at odd hours when alone. But as a group, we can not only walk with a sense of safety, we can analyze what elements in our surroundings evoke that insecurity. We are not the police or vanguards of law-and-order, but as individuals, we can certainly take a note of what can be done to improve the current state, and even help others feel safe while we walk with them. The aim is not to blame anyone for what has already happened, but to look at things from a new perspective and realize what we can do.

Our common belief is that when crime is on the rise, it is not time to shut our doors. Instead, it is the time to carefully look at our surroundings before the situation deteriorates further. We do not undermine the importance of education and employment, which will make society a better place by weeding out the bigger reasons for crime. But for now, our immediate concern is to connect better with everyone and everything around us. To inculcate respect in ourselves for all individuals. And to stay strong with the hope that our efforts would certainly bring about a positive change so necessary at this hour.

In several instances, we are faced with the dilemma of not helping someone in trouble, because of the implications that arise later on. Though the idea may sound far-fetched "I am Strong" believes that when a group of 50 individuals walk as a group in an area prone to theft or violence, it does promote a sense of security for those alone. By carrying out the walk as often as possible, responsible and motivated citizens can eventually deter the emboldened anti-social elements. Also, by connecting better with the people around us, we wish to discourage others from harming anyone, and to foster respect for basic human dignity.

We have started with our city, New Delhi, which is our immediate surrounding as of now. We hope that people all over the country, in both rural and urban areas, would do something to connect better with their environment. Until then, we hope to reach out to as many parts of Delhi-NCR as can be covered by the Walk.

The first walk was made possible by strong individuals who have firm belief in the neutrality and potential of the initiative. Feel free to share your ideas and suggestions for the next walk... and if possible, be a part of it.

I am Strong walk begins...

A video introducing the broad aims of "I am Strong" Walk. There are no edits (and no credits) as the focus is on seeing the reality as it is. We often put collective blame on the society for the mishaps, and end up sharing the collective shame as well. However, it is best to devote some time and figure out how you and i are accountable as individuals who form the society. How important our role is.

"I am Strong" walk makes an effort to realize the strength of every individual, to become better citizens for the change we wish to see. To start with, "I am Strong" aims for improved public safety everywhere (and not just women's security) by walking through the city to understand our surroundings. To bid adieu to the feeling of neglect and apathy towards things that go on in our immediate environment.

Big ideas generally start with small initiatives... all we can do is to believe in ourselves, and stay strong towards bringing about positive transformations in society.

Recorded from an individual's perspective on April 25, 2013, here is to share a brief but strong idea...

"I am Strong" Walk