“…And when all the wars are over, a butterfly will still be beautiful,” wrote Ruskin Bond.
As we approach the end of 2015, it is quite natural to look back and search for the kind of beauty he was talking about – the beauty amidst chaos that helped us throughout the year and also gave hope for the next one. No matter the dark times and the harsh memories, everybody seeks that hope to wake up with each day. And on several occasions this year, India helped us believe in that hope, and in happiness, humanity and pride.
Many times this year, different people and incidents made Indians proud of being a part of this country. Here are the 22 best ones:
1. When a Cab Driver Created a Rooftop Garden on His Taxi:
Mr. Dhananjay Chakraborty, a taxi driver in Kolkata, has a garden on the roof of his cab, and many potted plants in the trunk. He calls his car the green chariot, and it is a great way of promoting the message of green living while driving around the city.
2. When This 11-Year-Old Became the World’s First Visually Impaired News Anchor:
T Sriramanujam, a visually impaired student of Class 5, fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a TV news anchor. He read his first live news bulletin for 22 minutes with the help of Braille.
3. When Farmers in Rural Maharashtra decided to Become Tech-Savvy and Created a Brilliant WhatsApp Group:
On a WhatsApp group named ‘Baliraja’, over 400 farmers from various villages in Maharashtra are seeking and sharing agriculture advice, connecting with experts in various fields and learning new practices. The group simply rocks!
4. When an Inspiring Ragpicker Spoke at an International Conference:
Suman More, a 50-year-old waste picker from Pune, runs a 9,000 member organization named Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, and has been giving a new identity to ragpickers. This year, she spoke before more than 2,000 experts from across the world at a conference organized by the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.
5. And When This Guy Quit His Job to Fight for Our Right to Drive Without Borders:
Waseem Memon and his group of over 25,000 people are fighting for our right to use our cars all across the country, challenging the existing laws regarding registration. He started the Drive Without Borders campaign to protest against the injustice meted out by road transport officials of various states while checking non-state vehicles.
6. When a Sarpanch in Haryana brought girls into the spotlight with his ‘Selfie with Daughter’ Contest:
Parents across India proudly took pictures with their daughters and sent them to Sunil Jaglan, the sarpanch of Bibipur village in Haryana, who started a WhatsApp contest named ‘Selfie with Daughter’. He received more than 500 entries in just a few days.
7. When this Muslim girl won the Bhagwad Gita Championship and Donated the Prize Money for the Education of Girls
Maryam Siddiqui won a Bhagwad Gita competition and was felicitated by many political figures across the country. She politely returned all the money received in the form of rewards, with a note that the money should be utilised for a scheme or something related to providing better education for girls.
8. And Many Beautiful Stories of Communal Harmony Kept our Hopes Alive:
The Muslim man who performed the last rights of his Hindu friend, the Hindus who opened up a Ganesha pandal for Muslims to celebrate Eid, and the Hindu man who wrote Prophet Muhammad’s biography in Marwari – all helped break the shackles of narrow religious confines.
9. Then Came This Man Who Filled 1100 Potholes with His Pension Money:
Gangadhara Tilak Katnam, a 67-year-old retired Railway employee, quit his job to single-handedly fill up potholes in Hyderabad. He used his pension money to fill over 1,125 potholes in two and half years.
10. And This 13-Year-Old Went to an Orphanage for a Special Purpose:
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Nikhiya Shamsher started a project named Bags, Books and Blessings. She collected around 2,500 books, about 150 bags, water bottles, a lot of stationery, and more from the students in her school, and donated all of it to an orphanage in Bangalore. She stood out as an inspiration for many students of her age.
11. When an Engineer Transformed a Railway Station and Amazed Everyone:
Gaurang Damani, an electrical engineer, adopted the King’s Circle railway station in Mumbai and transformed it into a very beautiful and clean place in just four months. Find more about his work here.
12. And ISRO Went on Creating History:
13. When a 17-Year-Old Built a Bridge to Help Slum Kids Reach School:
When Eshan Balbale saw that students in Sathe Nagar had to walk through a 1.5 km long, filthy, sewage-filled stretch to reach school every day, he made a 4-feet-wide and 100-feet-long bamboo bridge for them in just eight days.
14. And Twitterati Helped This Man Who Lost His Source of Income:
65-year-old Kishan Kumar lost his typewriter when a police official kicked it in his attempt to evict footpath dwellers and vendors. When Indians on Twitter came to know about this incident, they simply made sure that he got his typewriter back.
15. When a Cop Jumped off a 20-Feet-High Bridge to Save a Man:
A 24-year-old policeman, Manoj Barahate, did not think of his own life before diving off a 20-feet high bridge to save the life of a man who had jumped into the water during Kumbh Mela. Had it not been for this quick-thinking brave cop, the man would have lost his life.
16. When Karnataka Government Honoured a Transgender:
Of the 60 people who were honoured with the prestigious Karnataka Rajyotsava Award this year, one is a transgender – Akkai Padmashali – who has been fighting for the rights and acceptance of her community for years. This was the first time that a transgender won this award.
17. And This Woman Showed the Way by Inviting Her Maid’s Family Home for Dinner on Diwali:
“It looks like this is the beginning of a beautiful new tradition in our family, which I hope we will only enhance as time goes on. It touched and opened my heart in many ways,” wrote her daughter.
18. When Indian Railways Showed That It Can Deliver – More than Once
All of these tweets were answered, and help reached the passengers in almost no time.
19. And Children Showed That They Can Change the World, Whenever They Want
20. When Bengaluru’s Chinnaswamy Stadium Became the World’s First Solar-Powered Cricket Venue
21. And When These Army Men Gave Their Lives So We Can Sleep Safely in our Homes
22. Finally, When Chennai Showed That All Our Differences Mean Nothing When We’re Fighting Back Disaster
We are all Indians at the end of the day. And we stand by each other.