The old man and the traffic - meet Suraksha Baba (Feature with images)February 22nd, 2009 - 2:36 pm ICT by IANS
Noida, Feb 22 (IANS) Mukul Chandra Joshi looks like any other 74-year-old, but not when he becomes Suraksha Baba and mans a traffic crossing in this busy town adjoining Delhi, promoting road safety through his own brand of Gandhigiri.
After his retirement, Joshi wanted to do some social service, but he was not sure of how he could contribute and make a difference.
Then a tragic incident transformed Mukul Chandra Joshi into Suraksha Baba.
“A very tragic incident took place. A dear friend’s son lost his life in a road accident,” Joshi told IANS.
“It was then that I vowed to effectively manage traffic on my own and create awareness about the need for road safety. This ultimately became the mission of my life,” Joshi said.
“I printed pamphlets, made my gown and bought a loudspeaker. I named myself Suraksha Baba to make my campaign more interesting and popular. Then I approached the senior superintendent of police in 2004 seeking permission to control traffic.
“The reaction was very positive. From the next day I started my mission with the consent of the authorities. Initially I felt a little scared. My wife also warned me that I may be laughed at. But I was headstrong about it and went ahead,” Joshi said.
Joshi adopted a different approach towards traffic rule violators.
He said: “There is always a risk when you are dealing with crowds. So I adopted a Gandhigiri attitude towards them. And till date I have not had any problem.
“I manage traffic for an hour daily, six days a week. I do it at different locations and I target the busiest signals. I primarily do it in Noida and at times in Delhi as well.
“I don’t command people, I just request them and miraculously they obey. I feel this is the impact of my campaign,” Joshi said.
Joshi is now a celebrity here and has had many interesting and touching experiences.
“Once a young man approached me asking for my phone number. I gave it to him and he called me, inviting me for dinner at his restaurant. I tried to turn down his offer. He then revealed that a few months ago following my instructions he started wearing the seat belt. And days after that he met with a severe accident and the seat belt saved his life. So he wanted to thank me by inviting me to dinner. I went to his restaurant and got a fabulous reception.
“He wanted to be part of the campaign. But I refused, as I want our young generation to support their families and work for the nation. I want senior citizens to join my traffic safety mission as they have ample time. If every senior citizen contributes just one hour a day to this mission, India will become a better place,” Joshi said.
He is satisfied with the response his campaign is receiving, though he is unhappy that his efforts and his campaign have not been better recognised and promoted by the authorities.
“I need sponsors. I don’t seek money or fame. I only want that this campaign should reach the masses. I am not running an organisation. Anyone can do this but till now I haven’t found anyone who can dedicate himself to the mission,” he said.
Despite the ups and downs, Joshi derives immense satisfaction from the social work that he is doing.
“When I come back home from this work, I relax. And trust me, I feel a sense of satisfaction that I am able to contribute to society. And I believe that even if I could avoid one accident during the day the purpose of my campaign is fulfilled.”
(Siddharth Ranjan Das can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: attitude, busy town, chandra, crowds, dear friend, gandhigiri, joshi, loudspeaker, mukul, old man, pamphlets, retirement, road accident, road safety, signals, six days, superintendent, traffic rule, tragic incident, young man