Traffic Action Group in Pune, India not stopped by city protests

by Celeste Hamilton Dennis on June 5, 2014

Amid violent city riots in Pune, India last Sunday, 18 people met to talk about next steps for the “Traffic related issues in Pune” Action Group.

“We were thinking about canceling the meeting, but many volunteers called and said, ‘If we stay at home, these violent protestors will win,’ ” Connector Abhishek Surywanshi says.

The group was a mix of people from all types of active social initiatives, including TEDxPune, Pune Instagrammers, Wikipiedia Club Pune, Let's Ride, Idealist India, and Humans of Pune. Abhishek was careful to respect all the different personalities present.

“Some people love to listen and later on, in the end, they give feedback. It’s important to respect even silence,” he says.

Despite the Group’s diverse backgrounds, they were able to come to a consensus to focus first on the issue of illegally charging for parking on college campuses.
By the end of the meeting, the Group decided on three big action steps. First, they’re going to prove that charging for parking is in fact illegal by filing for a Right to Information (RTI), an act that grants citizens in India the right to request information from a public authority. Second, they’ll be collecting evidence by having people post photos of parking receipts on Instagram. Third, in addition to regular meetups, they’re planning an outing at an adventure park to help team-build. 

Abhishek has been already impressed by the level of commitment he’s seen so far, but he was stunned by the braveness shown at this last meeting given the shaky political climate.

“When people are frustrated with the system, they stay at home and blame,” he says. “In this situation, Idealist members came out of their homes and brainstormed positive ways to change society.”

Want to learn more? Feel free to reach out to Abhishek.

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