KANPUR, 20th November, (chhotebhai) — The youth of Kanpur came out in large numbers today to participate in a path breaking cycle rally. About 450 students from various schools, NCC cadets, Scouts and senior citizens enthusiastically cycled down the main Mall Road from the Parade ground to Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Phoolbagh. A small group of differently abled, from the Spastics Centre, also took part. The rally was organised by the Kanpur Nagrik Manch (KNM) that is the Kanpur Citizens Forum, which espouses several civic and social issues in this city of 4.5 million, once known as the Manchester of the East, for its industrial prowess.
This rally was the brainchild of chhotebhai, the Convener of the KNM, who is also the President of the Kanpur Catholic Association (KCA). It was flagged off by noted littérateur and Gandhian, Padamshree Giriraj Kishore, who said that it was the need of the hour. The rally slogan was “Cycle Chalao, Eedhan Bachao, Swasth Banao” (Keep cycling, Save fuel, Keep fit).
Addressing the gathering chhotebhai said that the fuel import bill was having an adverse impact on the nation’s Current Account Deficit, and thereby the economy. It was therefore imperative that the citizens, and especially the youth, took to cycling. It would also reduce pollution and make for a healthier lifestyle. He said that Pope Francis had appealed to priests and nuns to eschew their cars and return to cycles. Lt Gen Zameeruddin Shah (Retd) the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University cycles, as does noted scientist and environmentalist Sunita Narain.
One should not be ashamed or embarrassed to cycle he said. Holland is a rich country, but it is the cycling capital of the world. Puducherry, which has a cosmopolitan culture, also has a vast number of cyclists. He asked the youth if they would like to get into the IIT? When they said, “Yes”, he told them that they would then have to cycle, because on the IIT Kanpur campus, not just the students, but also the professors use cycles.
While earlier visiting several schools to invite them for the rally, the KNM was surprised to hear the lament of school principals, that youngsters were loath to cycle, and surreptitiously came on 2 wheelers, eventhough they were underage and didn’t have a Licence. Since bringing 2 wheelers to schools is banned by the police, the students would park them in convenient places near the school premises.
At the rally the KNM appealed to the traffic police to make the roads safe for cyclists. The rally ended with the singing of the National Anthem and a pledge to keep on cycling, as also to encourage others to do so. The KCA was represented by Rajveer Samuel, Cornelius Kujur, Emmanuel Premchand and Angelo Menezes. The only Catholic school to participate was St Aloysius’, led by Rohit Caleb.
(Photo credits – Rajveer Samuel, attached herewith).