It takes a small deed to inspire a change in people’s attitudes, and in turn, transform society. Case in point: 35-year-old Raghavendra Kumar.
The Bihar-born Raghavendra, who has earned the sobriquet ‘Helmetman’, has now encouraged security guards of a few Delhi-NCR housing societies to go beyond their call of duty.
Together, they have rendered a ‘roko toko’ (translated in English as ‘stop and ask’) campaign in order to guide and sensitise residents to the benefits of wearing helmets while riding their two-wheelers.
A much-needed change
A recent report by the World Bank states that India accounts for about 4.5 lakh road crashes per annum, in which 1.5 lakh people die.
Talking to us about how this initiative has shaped up, Vineet Kumar (35), a security guard at Greater Noida’s AWHO housing society, says, “Initially, we received stern rebukes from residents who were stopped for riding without helmets. We were often asked not to behave like cops.”
Despite being berated by angry motorcyclists, Vineet mentions that they continued entreating them to wear helmets while riding a bike. “Finally, many, who rebuked us earlier, are now seen wearing helmets,” he says.
Mukesh Kumar (40), another security guard from a Greater Noida society, says, “When Raghavendraji motivated us to do this kind of Gandhigiri, we were hesitant initially. But after being motivated by the Helmetman, in the last three months we have helped more than 70 residents to develop the habit of wearing helmets.”
In support of safety
This initative is slowly gaining acceptance among residents as well. Lauding the efforts of the security staff, Rahul Kumar, a housing society resident, says, “I was once stopped and politely asked to wear a helmet while riding a bike. Now, I never forget this suggestion.”
Another appreciative resident, Nirmal Kumar from Jaypee Greens, Greater Noida, mentions being stopped for not wearing a helmet: “I followed the request of the security guard, and went out only after wearing a helmet. I remained unchecked at a helmet checking drive. When I returned, I gifted a pack of sweets to the guard since I wasn’t fined.”
Raghavendra has now sought permissions from Noida Authority to place signboards—requesting residents not to venture out on two-wheelers without helmets—near entry and exit points of housing societies.
Asking residents to pay heed to the guards, he concludes, “They [the guards], who save money from being given as fine to cops, deserve appreciation.”