As a child, I grew up watching my own family discriminate against people based on caste and profession. I was taught to do the same. But somehow, my heart resisted it. Since I have decided to take control of my life, my understanding of humanity has changed. Every time I see people doing jobs like sweeping, scavenging, policing, and driving, I ask myself, “What if I had to do that job everyday, and for many years?”
Forget doing it–just the mere thought of it scares me! After all, these jobs are the most difficult and undignified in our society. Furthermore, I imagined the possibility of these workers collectively deciding to hang their boots one day and say, “That’s it! We are done; we won’t be doing any such work!” What would happen to all of us?
The reality is that the “haves” in our society can’t function without the “have nots.” And we all know that the economic plight of the working class compels them to take on such jobs. I felt this put an even bigger responsibility on the more privileged class to recognize the importance of the work that everyone does–the real heroes in our society!
With this thought in mind, I started an initiative four years ago to conceptualize an awards show, “Namma Heroes” (our heroes), in order to recognize the faceless contributions of laborers in our society. By recreating the same glamour and appeal of an awards show like the Oscars, our aim is to showcase all of the people who contribute to our society.
We’ve hosted three awards shows in the past for auto drivers, BBMP Pourakamikas (garbage collectors), and traffic constables. This year, thousands of nominations were received, out of which 41 nominees were shortlisted across 5 categories to honor several types of unsung heroes in Bengaluru:
- Pourakamikas (garbage collectors and sweepers)
- Traffic constables
- Police constables
- BESCOM workers / electricians
- BMTC drivers and conductors
Held at the opulent five-star Shangri-La Hotel in March, the event was attended by Cabinet Ministers, MLA’s, and Members of Parliament. Mysore Maharaja Yaduveer Wadeyar; Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw; Justice Santosh Hegde, a former judge of the Supreme Court Of India and former Solicitor General of India; and Consulate Generals of Israel, France and Canada all came to show their support.
A red carpet affair, the show included live performances from live paint artist Vilas Nayak, walking violinist Aneesh Vidyashankar, traditional folk dances, and a drum circle. Of course, the event wouldn’t have been complete without a Bollywood presence–film actors Shruti Hariharan, Sri Murali, Shaanvi Srivastava, former Miss India Sushrithi Krishna and many others also attended!
We hold this awards show, now an annual tradition, to recognize the unsung heroes of society and honor them for their contributions. We hope to build an inclusive society where every person and every profession is dignified and appreciated.
Anil Shetty, the creator of the Namma Heroes initiative, is an Indian entrepreneur, author, activist and motivational speaker. He is currently the President of Nav Bharat Democratic party, India’s youngest political party aiming to engage young people in politics. For more information about Namma Heroes, please email Anil Shetty at firstname.lastname@example.org.