The common saying is that if one wishes to see true India or an unabridged version of India that lies away from the sparkle of its entrepreneurship culture or the mirage of its economic fiefdom then one must stare inside the hollow lanes where its underprivileged live. Or, where several hundreds of thousands of dreams lie defunct, straddled by poverty, where aspirations are truncated by patina of hopelessness.
The India the world sees today is often at odds with its own self: there being a swanky automobile flagship right opposite to a thriving slum or a fancy, up-market eatery nestled in midst of an urban chaos outside which one finds a fleet of beggars; often those in whose hands one would’ve wanted to see a pen or a book and not a begging bowl. But such is the reality that it often takes us completely by surprise. In fact, no matter how much one laments, forget food, most poor people don’t have a single pair of shoes or slippers.
Many of India’s forgotten, subdued poor populace walks barefooted for miles and miles together, often in utter disappointment – whether on account of its failure to make ends meet or mired by the sheer disgust at failing to provide for one’s family. But at the same time where there is heartbreak and tears, there are also some committed not-for-profit concerns that are enabling some underprivileged in India to walk on their on two feet, with a comforting footing under their heels.
Truth be told, amidst several firms and enterprises that are raking in mega bucks by sheer weight of their corporate muscle, there are also organisations like Greensole that are working to provide the poor and underprivileged with footwear so that while life continues to pelt stones at their feet, their walk can be relatively pain-free. Greensole is a Mumbai-based company that is focused at recycling abandoned, old footwear so as to distribute it to needy kids.
It is only more meaningful and insightful that behind the establishment of Greensole that is working towards such a noble cause, are two athletes- Shriyans Bhandari and Ramesh Dhami. While this is both hugely inspiring and telling on the part of India’s youth- a part of the population often criticised and mocked for its unbending obsession with gadgets and smartphones- that Greensole has such young minds at work also puts to rest the bias often attributed to Indian youth; people calling it hollow and somewhat insular. When it started in 2013, one might not have expected to predict Greensole going as far as distributing 50,000 pieces of footwear to needy, underprivileged kids.
But insights from 2017 only throw more light on the relentless drive of the organization toward coming to the rescue of the marginalised. It is reported that as of today, nearly 1,00,000 pair of footwear have been distributed amongst underprivileged kids. A kind act of gratitude seldom fails in creating ripples around the world. That said, it isn’t much of a surprise that for its excellent work, Greensole has drawn praise from personalities of great international repute, such as former Tata Group Chairman, Ratan Tata and, former US President, Barack Obama.