Model Citizen: ‘People should fight for their rights’

Shanthi Kamalasekaran, Human Rights and RTI activist was a happy marketing cars eight years ago, but today she has taken on the onus of creating awareness about road safety among teens and their parents.
Model Citizen: ‘People should fight for their rights’
Shanthi Kamalasekaran

Chennai

Driving is a passion with her. “My skills are so good that a person sitting next to me will feel safe and comfortable, despite the bad condition of our roads,” claims Shanthi. 
She was marketing cars for many corporates and during a trip to Malaysia for the launch of a new model of a popular car company, she had an accident that changed her life. During a test drive, the driver suddenly swerved the vehicle at a turn and it plunged into a pit. Her spine was affected badly in the accident and she underwent a major surgery. “The driver was a young lad. If he had heeded my advice, he could have averted the accident,” she says. 
Since she is fascinated with cars, and also has a soft corner for teens, she decided to become a social activist and take forward the message of ‘safe driving’. She approached the RTO and volunteered to be their liaison officer. Co-ordinating with the school management and RTO officials, she began conducting awareness meets in schools, attended by students, teachers and the RTO officials. “Parents and children learnt the importance of getting a licence without bribing anyone,” says Shanthi.
She has conducted programmes focusing on road safety and under-age driving, the use of helmets and the dangers of rash driving and speeding. These have have been held at various colleges, inclduing Mohammed Sathak College, Shollinganallur, Patrician College, Kottur and Kumararani Meena Muthiah college, Adyar. “The college authorities decided to give an identity card to those who owned a proper license. Only those vehicles and students who used helmets, are allowed inside the premises,” said the activist. 
In 2012, RTO officials suggested she become a  member, Review Committee, for Women’s safety in Public Transport, State Transport Commission. Periodical meetings, held in the presence of the Transport Commissioner were productive. Misbehaviour of conductors, drivers and usage of airhorn were debated. 
As an activist, she says that IT companies and corporates should have their personnel accompanying their employees home if they work till late night. They must also have a tieup with local travel agencies,to help their employees during emergencies, she adds. 
She conducts a number of road safety campaigns. If there is an encroachment issue or any injustice done to individuals, Shanthi picks up cudgels on their behalf. Her efforts are slowly paying off. “Individuals have to know their rights, rise up and fight for themselves,” she concludes.

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