To address the daily difficulties of commuting which students, boys and especially girls, face, a bus campaign was launched- Anandi Bus Pravas Abhiyan. The campaign was also part of the One Billion Rising annual program. The objectives of the campaign were to:
The campaign ran through the 12th of January (National Youth Day) to the 16th of January. It was run in Saswad and Jejuri, primarily at the bus stop and depo. Colleges and private classes were also approached to garner support for the cause at hand and facilitate access to education.
On the 12th, testimonies were collected from students at the Saswad bus depo. Some of the issues that emerged during this exercise were: buses rarely arrive on time, sometimes they are delayed by 2-3 hours; when buses are cancelled, the commuters are not intimated; girls face teasing inside the bus; there are no buses in certain routes at all; and so on.
On the 13th of January, pamphlets that communicated the plight of students commuting everyday were distributed. Team members spoke about the impact of harassment to groups of students. Signatures were also collected with the distribution of pamphlets.
On the third day, some of us took the campaign to Jejuri and some remained at Saswad. Students were given pamphlets, bookmarks, and signatures were collected. Posters of the campaign were put up in SP college.
On the 15th, the petition was revised to include some of the issues that students had themselves put forth.
The campaign culminated on the 16th of January with the submission of the petition to the bus mahamandal. The core demands made were:
The manager spoke to us and expressed the difficulties of the departments in terms of being understaffed and not having sufficient number of vehicles. They said that a commuters committee had been recently constituted so that the commuters could put forth their experiences and help improve the service. Meetings for this committee were yet to commence, and we are asked to nominate two members for two routes. They accepted the petition and agreed to look into the demands.
The South - East Asian OBR newsletter featured our campaign: