I first met Dr Shanthi in 2012, an year after I had become an SWM volunteer. Thanks to our common SWM friend Lalitha, Dr Shanti came to help us, do a door to door campaign in Harlur village, a border zone between her ward and ours. After that I heard of stories about the trouble she faced with elected representatives in her ward but still she didn't give up. She did give up her Dentistry practice so she could focus on waste more, inspiring me and few others to do the same. She refused to stand in elections but supported a social activist and hence got many of us to come and campaign in her ward. She persisted and over the years from elected representatives ,government officials to waste contractors all became her allies.
Today HSR must be the only ward in the country that has highest segregation level and highest amount of waste being processed . In this time, I transformed from a community SWM volunteer, to a volunteer that has spread the message of 2bin1bag.in in multiple states. She was part of Smita and my trio who led plastic ban across the city- her focus primarily stayed on her ward and street vendors to eateries all comply with the ban. Given that she is 7 star volunteer as compared to my 2 star, I found it really frustrating that her 80% of focus just stayed her in her ward and constituency. And then I heard Anna Hazare today and suddenly it dawned on me that a man could stay in a village and still lead anti corruption movement for the country. He had to make his village a model village. Dr Shanthi is making her HSR the a model ward for waste management.
Every campaign - 2bin1bag, swachagraha, plastic ban, rent a cutlery, eco friendly ganesha, green the red and now natural cleaners - HSR ward citizens lead it with gusto. If you are in Bengaluru, do visit Swachagragha Kalike Kendra - her dream project -where home to community - all solutions are showcased. May this ward show the light to the world how waste should be managed! And like Anna, may this Akka be recognised by the country too.