“I wish this ‘viral’ news of me walking 10 kms to buy local produce would simmer down now,” shares the modest 2008-batch IAS officer, Ram Singh, currently posted as Deputy Commissioner (DC) of West Garo Hills.
He is talking about a picture he shared on Facebook a week ago which has gone viral. The image shows him purchasing produce from a market near Tura.
“21kgs of weekend organic Vegetables shopping, No plastic, no vehicular pollution, no traffic jam, Fit India, Fit Meghalaya, Eat Organic, Clean & Green Tura , POSHAN, 10km morning walk.” wrote Mr Singh in his post smashing the stereotypical notions of our sarkari babu’s, one step at a time!
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This is not something new for me. Having grown up in the hilly regions, walking was one of the easiest ways to get to a place and that is what I am continuing to do, says Ram, from Assam-Meghalaya cadre, while speaking The Better India.
The initiative, which has received much appreciation, started when Ram Singh wanted to find solutions to the traffic woes and steep auto fares that he heard about repeatedly during his weekly meetings with other officers. The discussions usually veered toward the weekly market where the local produce is sold. With most buyers opting to reach the market with their vehicles, the market becomes overcrowded.
And for Singh, walking to the local market to get his weekly supply of vegetables seemed like a good way to begin his initiative of inspiring people to opt for walking. “We all step out of our homes to walk, or end up paying a hefty sum to stay fit. This is my way of getting the necessary exercise and also doing my bit to promote a good living.”
Ram Singh is often accompanied by wife who wears a baby carrier, while Ram Singh carries ‘Kokcheng’ (a local bamboo basket) to carry the produce. The ‘kokcheng’ idea was a practical solution to the complaints of his colleagues that it was difficult to carry the produce and walk back from the market.
“I started using the ‘Kokcheng’ (a local bamboo basket) to carry the produce back home and I urged others to do that too. Having practiced this for about six months now, I can say with certainty that it works well,” says Singh.
He goes on to say that while initially this solution was laughed at, many of Singh’s colleagues have now started to follow it.
“Walking small distances, in my opinion, was the most viable solution,” says Singh. “In fact I am also getting calls from other districts and states to help them implement this,” Singh laughs. “I have not started anything new, in the rural areas this (walking) continues to be the norm. Urbanisation has taken that away from us and I am merely trying to bring it back into fashion.”
Singh has always been a solution-oriented officer; his previous projects involved helping the locals plant saplings to arrest deforestation in the region and upgrading the government secondary school with solar-powered classrooms.
Singh concludes with, “Young and able-bodied people must shift to walking wherever possible. Also, it is not necessary to carry back too much produce, pick up what you feel comfortable carrying back.”
Where adopting eco-conscious way of living—saying no to single-use-plastics or taking public transport—is a mere selfie to get more likes on social media, officers like Singh are walking the talk and consciously making decisions to contribute towards green living
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)