Initiating a bold step to instil in the sense of security, boost self-confidence and equip the young girls to fight harassment, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad is very close to achieving the target of imparting self-defence training to ten lakh girls across the country under its #MissionSAHASI, a joint effort of ABVP and Grand Master Shifuji Shaurya Bhardwaj. Under the drive, the young girls are being trained how to use the daily use items like keychain, dupatta, shoes, pen, mobile phone, stones, mud, bottles, etc. for self-defence
Women have surely excelled in every field they have ventured and have proved to be one of the best leaders in several domains from corporate to the social. But at the same time, there is a stark reality that there is a considerable majority among women who are bogged down by many social issues. Moreover, for some time we have been witnessing some cruellest atrocities against women, and the society collectively rose up demanding justice for the victims. But none tried to think beyond staging protests, organising candle marches or demonstrations.
Demonstration by trained girls in Delhi
No doubt, being the largest students’ organisation of the country, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) also joined such protests and candle marches across the country, but it went a step ahead. Taking a bold step in March this year, it took up a project, Mission SAHASI, to impart self-defence training to young girls in Mumbai. The response was so overwhelming that the campaign was taken up at the national level and now the ABVP is very close to achieving the target of imparting self-defence training to over ten lakh girls across the country. Training to over six lakh girls has already been imparted. The training has been imparted in most of the states, and the tremendous response from the girls and active participation of their family members has turned it a mass movement.
The Mission SAHASI aims at not just instilling confidence into women, but also to bring the much-required change in the ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude prevailing in the society towards women and their issues. It is a self-defence training programme for girls imparted by the finest of martial arts trainers and security experts. With the tagline “Making of the Fearless” the Mission is customised by expert trainers keeping in mind the threats faced by girls in their daily routine, be it on a crowded street or in empty train and to defend herself in any circumstance and the company of known or unknown people. “The ABVP believes that such programmes would help build confidence in the young women who have the skill and will to achieve wonders,” says Shri Ashish Chauhan, national general secretary of the ABVP.
Sunil Ambekar welcoming Shifuji Shaurya Bhardwaj in Mumbai
How the Idea Clicked?
The campaign was basically conceptualised by ABVP national organising secretary Shri Sunil Ambekar after meeting Grand Master Shifuji Shaurya Bhardwaj, who has been continuously empowering girls and women of rural areas under ‘Mission Prahar’ by teaching them self-protection and survival techniques. Impressed by Shri Bhardwaj’s initiative, Shri Ambekar asked him to join the ABVP in the same initiative. Finally, the “Mission SAHASI”took shape. It commenced in Mumbai in March 2018, where 10,000 girls from Mumbai were imparted crucial self-protection and survival techniques by Shri Bhardwaj and his team. After training in five campuses in Mumbai, 5000 girls demonstrated the same techniques at MMRDA Grounds at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis, actress Raveena Tandon and some other dignitaries.
After the success of training in Mumbai, where it was observed that girls participated in the campaign keeping all boundaries of caste, religion, creed and colour aside, the initiative was replicated across the country with the aim of providing self-defence training to approximately 10 lakh girls. In each state, in almost every district of India, the Mission SAHASI training camps were conducted by trained ABVP workers. “In all the camps across India, more than six lakh girls have already been trained in critical self-defence techniques. In the grand demonstrations organised post training camps on October 30, 2018, more than 4.5 lakh girls across India displayed that fearlessness is the choice they made, and they are ready to protect themselves in every situation.
Display of skills by trained girls
Whether it was Arunachal Pradesh, where hundreds of girls learnt Karate techniques or Manipur, the place where women are already empowered in one way or the other there also the need of Mission SAHASI was observed, and it got a great response. At Hyderabad in South India also approximately 10,000 girls demonstrated their self-defence techniques at the same time. If we talk about central Bharat, then in Ujjain approximately 5,000 girls performed self-protection techniques while standing systematically in the shape of Indian map. In the North, thousands of girls participated in each training camp, and mega demonstrations took place at various places. This campaign was visible on the ground from Jammu to Kanyakumari. Mega demonstrations took place at approximately 450 places in 30 Prants in ABVP parlance) across the nation,” points Shri Ashish Chauhan.
It was started at the national level after the Navratras in October. Intense 8 to 10-hour-long training was imparted at every place for two-three days. The training was basically imparted from October 20 to 29, and on October 30 public demonstrations were staged all over the country at the same time. Some states also organised the public functions on October 31 or November 1. The participants included urban, rural, IIT, ITI, 12th, colleges. Some local clubs and sports institutions also joined hands in the endeavour.
Applause from Bigwigs
Various eminent personalities belonging to different walks of life like Gladrags Mega Model-2017 Miss Purnima Bahl, Mrs India-2018 Divine Smt Bhanu Priya Sharma in Ghaziabad, Panjabi actress and singer Sushri Sara Gurpal in Jalandhar, author and activist Sushri Advaita Kala in Delhi, Union Minister of Textiles Smt Smriti Irani in Shimla, social activist Dr Nandita Pathak at Rajmundry in Andhra Pradesh, first bronze medalist in wrestling Sushri Alka Tomer in Meerut and actress Ravina Tandon in Mumbai, graced the concept with their presence and support.
The campaign has surely established the importance of self-reliance and self-dependence among girls. Overwhelmed with the response that the campaign has received all over the country, national girls work in charge of ABVP Smt Mamta Yadav opines: “Mission SAHASI is the need of the hour and it must go on till every girl doesn’t get benefit out of it.” The campaign has received an unprecedented response from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, etc. It is still to be conducted in some states including Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and some states of North East, etc. In Punjab, it has been conducted in some parts, but the workers are planning to conduct it at the district level because of the enthusiasm among girls and their parents.
Surely, howsoever, security may be beefed up to fight against rapes and eve-teasing, the girls have to take a vital role themselves. In this sense, the ‘Mission SAHASI’ can be said hundred per cent successful. The following comment of a participant in Jammu, Namita Dogra, shows the impact of the drive: “Today, we the girls are not safe on the road. But, if we want we can protect ourselves. We use clips to tie our hairs. We use the pen for study purposes. We also have a mobile phone in our hands. We can make use of these items to protect ourselves. This has been taught to us through Mission SAHASI.”