Chirag Arora, an engineer from Madhya Pradesh, shifted to Bengaluru about 11 years ago.
Besides being an engineer, he is also a do-gooder who likes to volunteer for various social causes whenever possible. So, it didn’t take him long to locate orphanages and NGOs near his home in Koramangala which he regularly visited to offer any help required.
However, the 27-year-old began to feel that those regular visits were inadequate because they could not be scaled up to make a significant impact.
He knew he had to do something substantial, that would positively impact his immediate surroundings.
“My office is in a small lane in JP Nagar which also has several other big companies. After close observation, I realised that we were the cause of all the traffic, pollution and congestion in the area. If I wanted to make a positive impact, I knew this was the place to start,” Chirag informs The Better India.
He started with small efforts like cleaning the area and took along his colleagues and social circle as support.
Soon enough, Chirag was volunteering for The Ugly Indian—an initiative which cleans and beautifies roads, walls and metro pillars in Bengaluru.
“I love the work they do, and was consistently pushing them to do something bigger. One opportunity finally came our way when we took the responsibility of beautifying the pillars of the Jayanagara metro station using crowdfunding and the help of about 200 volunteers. An initiative of that magnitude inspired me to take up another initiative although this one, quite frankly, was ignited by a personal motive,” he says.
Chirag wanted to get an electric scooter to travel to work every day. This two-wheeler is similar to those we would ride as children, pushing it with one foot to get ahead.
What the engineer soon realised was that the footpaths and roads were unfit for the scooter. So, he took help from Pothole Raja, an initiative, that, as the name suggests, deals with potholes on city roads. Once again, summoning his colleagues and friends to join the cause, Chirag was on the road, improving its condition.
But this time, he wanted to make sure that others in his social circle—his relatives and acquaintances in Bengaluru and even outside—could benefit from his initiative.
So, Chirag posted a video online showing his followers how a dangerous pothole can be fixed within minutes. Thanks to the video, Chirag was indirectly involved in fixing around 30 potholes in the city!
“My way of working is such that I throw myself to a cause for a few weeks or months. I put in my efforts, money, and resources to the cause and in this time, I talk to hundreds of people about it. Even if I am successful in inspiring a handful of them to join me, that is success enough. Once that short-term goal is achieved, I move on to another cause,” the engineer explains.
Over the years, Chirag has volunteered to develop a slum in Bengaluru, worked for the cause of female sanitation in Madhya Pradesh and has even helped in reviving the Puttenahalli Lake.
Most recently, he has crowdfunded and sponsored the restitching of IPL flags into durable bags. You can read the complete story here.
Last year, in August, his friend got him involved in yet another interesting cause.
A small patch of government land near his home was overflowing with garbage. Residents of the area would dump their unsegregated waste there, and the land eventually became a breeding ground for diseases.
“The area has several pet owners and dog lovers, and I was sure that if a dog park was built on the land, it would benefit everyone. A group of us approached the BBMP and sought their support. Thankfully, they were happy to extend it,” he informs TBI.
Being actively involved in various social initiatives and with several organisations, Chirag had a large circle of people always ready to pitch in efforts and financial resources.
So, one weekend, he gathered a group of about 40 enthusiastic volunteers and started picking the trash.
“On the first day, the stench was so terrible that we could only work for about four hours. In fact, I was convinced that someone would faint soon. However, everything went very well, and we cleared the ground over two days. After that, developing it into a dog park was relatively easy. We coloured tyres and installed them as an obstacle course for the dogs. We even painted a few benches in the park so dog owners could rest while their pets ran and played in the park. Today, the park has regular, as well as occasional visitors.”
You may also like: Exclusive: Meet the Bengaluru Startup Making Edible Water Pods from Seaweed!
Chirag hasn’t officially inaugurated the park although it is open for use 24/7. This year, he hopes that the BBMP will inaugurate it and hold a free dog licensing camp in the premises, so that more dog owners will know about it.
A dog lover himself, Chirag has also collaborated with a canine behaviourist from his neighbourhood to vaccinate and maintain records of the stray dogs in the area.
While our busy lives keep us from pursuing hobbies or becoming active volunteers, people like Chirag, who conduct cleanliness drives, fill potholes, and transform patches of land—in the hope of making a bustling city a cleaner and greener space —are all the inspiration we need.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)