A TRAFFIC policeman asks a car driver to halt his car for checking at the Teen Haath Naka junction in Thane. He sternly asks for the driving licence, PUC and then quizzes the driver on his name, to sniff his breath for alcohol. Everything to his satisfaction, the policeman’s expression changes.
Smiling warmly, he hands over a ‘thank you’ card to the driver for following all traffic rules. A group of NCC cadets along with members of NGO Thank You, India then line up and hand roses to the driver, holding up placards saying “thank you for being a responsible citizen”. A cop then blows a bugle and the driver proceeds, a tad embarrassed, surprised, but definitely happy. He makes way for another driver who is checked and, if found following all the rules, will be ‘treated’ in a similar fashion.
WATCH VIDEO | Motorists Get ‘Thank You’ From Cops In Thane
It is something we call ‘routine right’,” says Kavin Kondabathini, the co-founder of Thank You India group that came up with the idea. “While there may be a lot of people not following traffic rules who end up paying fines, there was a need to thank people for doing the right thing, even if that is what is expected from them. Rather than focusing on the negative, acknowledging the positive is equally if not much more important,” says Kavin.
Over the past six months, ever since the monsoon, there has been a slight change in the way this exercise is carried out in Thane. “Now, we have two photographers and a team of 70 people spread across Thane city. They secretly take photographs at traffic junctions, of motorists following rules like wearing seat belts and helmets. The team then goes to the Thane traffic police control room from where they get address of the driver based on the number plate. We then send a thank you card to the address with the photograph of the person to show our gratitude,” says Kavin, a marathoner.
The idea has its root in the life experiences of group founder Hemant Gupta, who had decided to quit his job and embark on a process of self-discovery. Gupta, as per Kavin, met 120 people across the world, including the dean of a world renowned college and thinkers, and read a lot of spiritual literature. “What he realised at the end of it was that the quality that was missing in the world today most was gratitude,” says Kavin. That led to the formation of the NGO, ‘Thank You, India’, in October 2014 and the group members hit the streets thanking 70,000 people. “These included policemen, cobblers, people strolling on the beach, post officers, basically anyone we met. We would give them flowers and thank them for doing their job. The motive was to spread gratitude,” says an NGO member. The group got a promising response with people who felt no one acknowledged them at times breaking down in tears and thanking them back.
Later that year, the group coordinated with the Mumbai Police and started thanking people at traffic signals. “Later, the Thane police commissioner contacted us. We then created a similar exercise for Thane city,” says Kavin. Apart from this exercise, we look at other ways to show our gratitude. Recently, the group along with actor-model and fitness promoter Milind Soman, organised a marathon for the Thane police as a way of saying thank you to the force.
“The main reason for us aligning with the traffic police is to see the surprise in people when they are ‘hauled over’ by the police. Initially worried, they actually find it difficult to believe that a cop has stopped them just to thank them. They will then go and tell this to other people creating this chain of positivity and gratitude. And there is a dire need for this in the world today,” adds the marathoner.