The people of Kashmir have a reason to smile. Curfews, shutdowns and restrictions on the public life have literally made the most controversial north Indian state, come to a standstill. Amidst such disorder, an eight-year-old girl from the state created history, on Friday, by winning the coveted gold medal for India in the World Kickboxing Championship of under-eight players in Italy’s southern coastal city of Andria, becoming the first player from the Valley to achieve such a feat.
Tajamul Islam, a class two student of the Army Goodwill School hails from Tarkpora village in Bandipora district, which is 65 km from Srinagar. She defeated her rival from USA to win the championship where ninety countries participated in the event.
Her coach Master Fasil Ali Dar beams with pride and this triumph indeed makes her the world’s youngest kick boxer to win an international gold. “She (Islam) has created history by winning a gold medal in the game at the age of eight,” said PDP leader Waheed Parra, who is also J&K State Sports Council secretary. Her coach added,“The sub-junior level closes at 14 years of age. Tajamul was the youngest in the category.”
In 2015, Islam gained the national recognition after bagging the gold medal in sub-junior category National Kickboxing Championship in New Delhi. The win paved the way for her participation in the World Championships. She had also won a gold medal in the Jammu and Kashmir Wushu Championships held at Haridwar, earlier this year.
She was coached by him for two years in the backyard of his house. “The girl came to me when she had just passed her upper kindergarten. Earlier, I had spotted Tajamul from a distance. She wasn’t yet completely conversant with the rules of the game but she had the speed. I found her instinctively aggressive,” said Fasal. And he also feels that her feat is more sterling keeping in mind the strained situation Kashmir has been facing for more than a century now.“We lack even the basic infrastructure. Yet, she won gold.”
Tajamul says in an interview, “I was walking near the stadium here when I saw many young boys and girls training. I saw them punching and I told my father that I wanted to join them and he let me.” Her father, Ghulam Mohammad Lone, is a driver for a construction company and somehow manages to make ends meet. There had been no lack of encouragement from him as he had sent Tajamul and her two sisters and two brothers to learn martial arts in Fasal’s academy.
This little girl’s story is inspiring and will motivate lot of girls to break barriers and achieve their dreams. “Our village is very backward but I, along with other kids like me, are going to take it to new heights,” she added.
Have you ever spotted a speeding car without a care for the traffic signal? Ever spotted a person rushing to the other side of the road when the traffic light is green? Ever seen bikers use pavements as roads to save a few minutes? Ever seen cars change lanes on highways or rush hour traffic on a whim? Well, so have thousands of other Indians.
Road safety in India is a serious concern. For a country that boasts the second largest road network in the world, it is inarguable that we need to pay more attention to our safety on roads – a place where we step out every day, spend a handsome amount of our time.
The government has come up with several regulations on road safety, but is this enough? Not if awareness around the topic is still lacking.
The intention behind the initiative is to bring together lawmakers, local authorities, traffic police and citizens under one umbrella.
The cities will be rated on parameters such as Pedestrian Rights, Road Lighting and Maintenance, Motor Laws and Traffic Control, Emergency Services, Road Cleanliness, Connectivity, Road Transport Infrastructure, Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management, Road Safety, Differently abled friendly, Road Quality and Road Safety For Children.
Here are the ten cities that were chosen for Road Safety Index 2018 and the reasons that make their roads safe or unsafe:
Mumbai has facilities for the differently-abled like reservations in public transports, special train compartments, concessions on fares, etc. The city that never sleeps scored the best when it comes to citizens’ participation in making the city accepting and warm toward the differently-abled. It won the category ‘Differently-Abled Friendly’.
However, there are areas of improvement – illegal hawkers, pavements and footpaths need to be fixed or reconstructed.
Anyone who hails from the capital of West Bengal knows about its recreational parks and brightly lit streets. Its traffic police deserve special mention for redirecting rush traffic every day as Kolkata roads are narrow and many are one-way streets.
During Durga Puja, the city tries to make Pandals differently-abled friendly by installing ramps.
It won the categories – ‘Road Lighting & Maintenance’ and ‘Road Safety For Children’.
But the City of Joy needs to work more on giving its residents #HappyRoads. Issues of waterlogging and numerous street hawkers, roadside vendors in busy areas need to be solved.
There’s no one who’s been to Delhi and not praised its excellent connectivity. Delhi prides itself for broad roads, top-notch metros, pavements and foot over bridges. The national capital surely serves as an example for cities across India when it comes to road connectivity hence, it won the categories ‘Connectivity’ and ‘Road Quality’ in the Road Safety Index.
While Delhi has made many of its public places differently-abled friendly, the areas that need improvement are long hours in traffic, fixing of roads that pose a hindrance to daily commute and rash driving by bikers.
The city boasts well-marked zebra crossings, adequate footpaths for pedestrians, underground SMART dustbins, reduced encroachments. Raipur fares well in almost all parameters of road safety. It won the category of ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Pedestrian Rights’.
However, the city could do better with stricter fines for traffic violators and awareness about road safety and garbage disposal.
Other cities can take inspiration from Chennai on how to ensure good road safety. The city has wide, well-connected roads that are lit properly. It also boasts rigorous night patrolling where traffic rules violators are fined. One of the best initiatives taken by Chennai is the separate parking space on city roads that prevent traffic from accumulating. It came out on top in the category ‘Motor Laws & Traffic Control’.
Areas where Chennai needs to improve are street lighting and cleanliness.
Indore is one of the few cities that has used plastic waste for construction of roads and covered garbage disposals, which explains why the city won the ‘Road Cleanliness’ category. Indore also has adequate zebra crossings, visual signals, street lights, footpaths.
But areas where the city needs improvement are – strict action against traffic violators, public spaces more differently-abled friendly.
There is a lot to learn from the road safety measures implemented by Ahmedabad – sound medical facilities, separate lanes for local buses, special cab service for differently-abled, wide roads. Ahmedabad won in the category ‘Emergency Services’, ‘Road Transport Infrastructure’ and ‘Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management’.
If the Heritage City improves road safety awareness among citizens, it’s bound to fare even better. Better street lighting and lesser encroachments will work in favour of Ahmedabad.
The other cities shortlisted were Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad but they didn’t win any category.
Maruti Suzuki’s initiative to rank cities will encourage citizens and administration to do better and emerge on top.
The Logical Indian community wholeheartedly appreciates the various initiatives undertaken by Maruti-Suzuki in this direction. Not only the government but we, as citizens of this country, should also pledge to make our roads safe. One of the first steps towards this is that we understand our duties.
We hope the authorities take a note while we pledge to do our own bit towards happier, safer Indian roads.
For more information about the Maruti Suzuki’s initiative and the Road Safety Indexclick here.