Red Ribbon opportunity went damp due to blasts

One lesser known impact of the blasts of last month was that many Bangaloreans lost an opportunity to utilise a thoughtful HIV/AIDS awareness initiative by the Indian Railways.

In late July, the Red Ribbon Express rolled into Karnataka, and into Bangalore, with much fanfare. It was going to be the average citizen’s eye-opener to the world of HIV and AIDS, and hopefully, the train was also going to raise some funds for the cause. I was at the Cantonment railway station at 7pm on 25 July.

The journey of the Red Ribbon Express was inaugurated from New Delhi on 1st Dec 2007. The train’s mission is to spread awareness of AIDS throughout the country. I had seen the train at Nagpur, on 21st December 2007, but I could not go in and have a look at the exhibition material at that time.

Banner of Red Ribbon Express to spread awareness of AIDS

Banner of Red Ribbon Express to spread awareness of AIDS (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

I had walked up and down the train, noting that it did have an "auditorium coach" where communication exercises with the general public could be undertaken:

Red Ribbon Express inaugurated from New Delhi to spread awareness of AIDS

Red Ribbon Express inaugurated from New Delhi to spread awareness of AIDS (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

So when it arrived in Bangalore last month, I decided that though I did not attend the opening ceremony on the 24th, I would, at least now, go and have a look inside the train. But fate willed otherwise: even as I left home the news of several blasts in various localities of Bangalore filtered through.

The platform was quite deserted when I reached Cantonment station, where the train was standing; its shutters were down, and I was not allowed to get in.

Red Ribbon Express inaugurated from New Delhi to spread awareness of AIDS

Journey of the Red Ribbon Express to spread awareness of AIDS
throughout the country (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

Terrorists had ensured that Red Ribbon Express’ mission in Bangalore remained unfulfilled. The Chief Executive Officer, Mohan Singh Rana, said that local administration had budgeted between 4000 and 5000 visitors during its sojourn in Bangalore. The first day, he said, there were 2100 visitors, and he was very hopefuly that even more than the budgeted number of visitors would come. But the reality was otherwise.

The news of the blasts spread like wildfire, and the train was closed, due to the poor response after the blasts. The station manager, S Rajakumar, said that the train’s presence also created a security problem as a special entrance had been opened up at the Cantonment station to give easier access to the general public.

The final day saw only around 1800 visitors, Rana claimed. On the night of the 26 July, the train left for Mysore.

The schedule for the Red Ribbon Express in Karnataka was:

July 24-26, Bangalore
July 27-29, Mysore
July 30-Aug 1, Hassan
Aug 2, Arasikere
Aug 3, Birur
Aug 4-5, Shimoga
Aug 6-8, Hospet
Aug 9-10,Hubli
Aug 11-13, Dharwad
Aug 14, Belgaum

The inauguration function had been well attended, Rajakumar said, and the programme included the launching of the campaign by B Sriramulu, Hon’ble Minister for Health and Family Welfare; inauguration of the exhibition by Ramachandra Gowda, Hon’ble Minister for Medical Education, flagging off of the Kala Jaatha by Katta Subramanya Naidu, Hon’ble Minister for Information, Excise, IT and BT.

The bus rally was flagged off by H T Sangliana, Hon’ble Member of the Lok Sabha, Bangalore North, and the function was presided over by Roshan Baig, Hon’ble MLA, Shivajinagar, Bangalore.

The chief guests included Sudhakar Rao, Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, R Srikumar, DG and IG of Police, Praveen Kumar, General Manager, SW Railways, and Dr S Subramanya, Commissioner, BBMP, Bangalore.

The initiative was with the active involvement of the Karnataka AIDS Prevention Society, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangatan, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, and UNICEF.

On a brighter and lighter note, Rajakumar said that because of the problem posed by stray dogs to the health officials before the train’s arrival, "They acted fast, and instead of the nearly 40 dogs in the station, there were only 4 left!"

However, Rana ruled out the possibility of the train returning to Bangalore, as every day in the schedule of its year-long run had been worked out much earlier. The train has to be back in Delhi after its all-India run, for the observance of World AIDS Day on November 28th.

So Bangaloreans lost a red-ribbon opportunity to acquaint themselves with the facts regarding HIV and AIDS, on this thoughtful initiative by the Indian Railways.

RELATED
RELATED

Related Articles

Friday blast scene at Madiwala checkpost

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

The trials of a school in Northeast Delhi in the aftermath of the 2020 riots

Rioters had left the Arun Modern Senior Secondary Public School in shambles in 2020. Here's the tale of its journey from then to now.

Kakul Sharma was in class 8 in 2020 when the Delhi riots occurred. Although she was safe at home, her school was attacked by a mob. "I thought I would never be able to go back to school. We believed that the world was ending. My sister cried all day when she saw a news channel telecasting the rubble of our school.” For the children of Northeast Delhi, like Kakul, the riot meant a school blackened by smoke, a charred library, broken benches, and a playground that looked like it was hit by a tornado. This was the shape in…

Similar Story

Push government to implement all welfare measures in Street Vendors Act : Lekha Adavi

Lekha Adavi, a member of AICTU, says that without BBMP elections, there are no corporators to address the issues of street vendors.

(In part 1 of the interview series, Lekha Adavi, member of the All India Centre of Trade Unions (AICTU), spoke about the effects of climate change on Bengaluru’s street vendors. In part 2, she highlights how The Street Vendors Act (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of street vending) 2014 falls short in its implementation) Excerpts: How do you engage with local authorities or municipal agencies to raise awareness of the challenges faced by street vendors during temperature surges? What responses or support do they provide? Lekha: Well, they don't respond to any of our demands. In Bengaluru, the BBMP elections…