Bharat Ke Mahaveer, a three-part series launched by United Nations in India and NITI Aayog, in partnership with Discovery Channel, and hosted by Dia Mirza and Sonu Sood, features 12 champions from across India who have gone out of their way to help those in need during the COVID19 pandemic.
Two stories that shine from Chennai are those of Saroja Sundararajan, an 85 year old maths teacher and Srini Swaminathan. Saroja Sundararajan is selling math activity sheets to collect funds for citizens infected by COVID 19. She started a website called Math Funds India with the help of a teenager, Siddhant Sinha, where she sold mathematics activity sheets catering to students of classes 6 to 8, for just Rs. 10 and donated Rs. 2 Lakhs to the PM care’s fund.
On the other hand, Srini Swaminathan, stepped up to the relief of migrant workers travelling long distances to reach their home during the lockdown. He made kits comprising food, water, sanitary pads, dry food items, ginger candy, toys for children, chikkis and cream biscuits, and reached Chennai Central station. However, realizing that a hundred kits were not enough, he mobilised the community, local businesses and other selfless individuals to come together and support the initiative to serve as many shramik passengers as possible. In just one month, this relief service has gone from 100 food kits to 1,00,000 food kits, 70,000+ water bottles, 1200+ toys for children and 35000+ cups of ginger tea
Srini Swaminathan said, “As the pandemic worsened in India and with the beginning of the lockdown, a lot of people including migrant workers and small businesses had been facing hardships. I wanted to do something. At first, I didn’t know how I would be able to provide food for all those in needs but later, I was overwhelmed on seeing so many people ready to contribute in every way they could. Seeing how far we’ve come with the support of local communities, is a very satisfying feeling and we continue to provide more and more for those in need.”
Saroja Sundararajan said, “I wanted to do something for those in need, while also making maths lovable and fun for children. Teaching has always been my passion and I used that to prepare fun math worksheets for the kids between 11 to 13 years, and donated the money collected from selling those for the welfare of those badly affected by Covid- 19 in any way. At such a time of a crisis, we get strength by standing for one another and that is the need of the hour.”
UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate Dia Mirza said, “Schools, playgrounds, meeting friends, hanging out – everything was locked down! Along with these challenges emerged a real problem – every school, every parent, every teacher was battling with what next! Saroja Sundarajan, an award winning mathematics teacher in Chennai, now 85 and retired, used her skill in posing interesting math problems to find a solution for students at home. Her worksheets became a rage when an internet savvy youngster took her effort to the virtual world.” She further added, “Isn’t it amazing how one person such as Srini stands up and ends up sparking off a movement? All our Mahaveers have such inspiring stories. They found the courage to begin alone and soon, many others joined in; they tackled all limitations – resources, personal ability, they are the warriors who created a chain of goodwill, inspiring the entire country.”
Other notable stories featured in Bharat Ke Mahaveer are of 12 year old Ridhi who raised over 11 lakh and supplied over 2,000 ration-kits during the pandemic through her Project Care-ona, Pune’s Akshay Kothawale, an auto driver who spent Rs. 2 lakhs from his wedding funds to feed migrant workers, Inder Singh Yadav , a railway police officer who sprinted behind a moving train to provide milk for an infant. It also features Langar on Wheels, an initiative by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, which continues to feed 1 lakh people living on streets, daily, school students Rohan Ray and Akash Raghavan from Bengaluru, who started an online fitness club for children and donated all their earnings and savings for Covid relief ; the National Law School of India University Bengaluru, alumni batch of 2000 chartered 10 flights all across India for migrant workers to reach their homes. The show features transgender rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi who has been distributing 200 meals every day since May 2020 for the community; Raji Radhakrishnan, a 31 year old girl with disability, who stitched more than 2000 masks for frontline workers and Baba Karnail Singh Khaira, who fed over 2 million people, free of cost, through his roadside eatery on NH-7, Maharashtra. Bharat Ke Mahaveer also features a heartwarming story from one of India’s aspirational districts Mewat, Haryana, where a community radio station – managed entirely by locals – is raising awareness about COVID-19 while ensuring children continue to learn.
Bharat Ke Mahaveer airs on Discovery and Discovery HD Channels, every Friday. Viewers can also stream the show on Discovery Plus app.
Bharat Ke Mahaveer is a television programme and not a contest, and the 12 stories are representative of the spirit of solidarity and unity in the country.