18/02/2017 11:46 AM IST | Updated 21/02/2017 1:51 PM IST

5 Amazing Indians Who Inspired Us This Week

They'll motivate you to make a difference too.

"Act or accept."

This quote seems most apt today, when India is struggling with varying issues that we need to fight against. While many of us resign ourselves to the "accept" option, to others, acting is the only way to find a solution. These are the people who aren't afraid to jump hurdles, break stereotypes and motivate other lives. From coming up with an ingenious solution to tackle plastic waste, to going out of their way to raise funds for cancer victims, here is a glimpse of their amazing dedication and work.

Juin Dutta

Juin Dutta has lived in Vadodara for close to two decades. "There was a cluster of migrant worker families living near my building," she says. "I would watch them go to construction sites, taking their children along. Sometimes, the kids would be put to work too and they were hardly 14 years old."

Many might move on from such sights with a mixture of guilt and helplessness, but Juin took the path less travelled.

Moved by their plight, she founded Pathshala classes — a chain of mobile schools for Vadodara's underprivileged children.

Juin, who quit her job as a school coordinator to start the initiative under the aegis of her organisation Srotoshwini Trust, first began teaching the kids of migrant workers in 2013. Her first classroom was the construction site where the kids spent the day.

"When the construction was completed in 2014, many of the children left with their parents," she says. "But some parents asked if they could leave their children with us. Nine children stayed behind and we created a hostel for them. They are still with us—they are like our children now."

Today, over 100 children of various ages have learned to read and write thanks to the Pathshala initiative.

The Srotoshwini Trust also runs Pathbhavan, a slum library and activity centre for underprivileged children. Along with issuing books, the centre also hosts hobby and recreational activities, and conducts spoken English and computer classes. The Trust also hopes to build a bigger hostel for underprivileged children in the future and prepare their children for further studies in formal schools.

Prof Rajagopalan Vasudevan

Prof Rajagopalan Vasudevan, known as The Plastic Man of India, is a professor of chemistry at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai. He is the man who developed the technology which enables us to use waste plastic, along with bituminous mixes, for road construction. By the turn of the century, a lot of noise was being made about reducing plastic waste because of the environmental degradation it causes. It was during this time when, one evening, Prof. Vasudevan saw a doctor on a TV program saying that plastic "dissolved" in water bodies caused pollution.

"This set me thinking. Since plastic is a product of petroleum, this theory of the doctor had to be false. There was a lot of serious talk about banning plastics all over the country and finding solutions to the waste plastic strewn all over. I decided to take up the challenge to experiment with waste plastics and see if I could find a solution," he says.

The laboratory results of mixing waste plastic with heated bitumen and coating the mixture over stone proved encouraging. He implemented the use of plastic waste on a road constructed inside the premises of his college in 2002. "To date, this stretch of road is still going strong," he says.

In 2006, the Thiagarajar College of Engineering received the patent for this technology.

This road construction process is extremely eco-friendly, with no toxic gases being released.

The plastic waste items that can be used for road construction include carrybags, cups, packaging for snacks etc.

"The advantages of using waste plastics for road construction are many. The process is easy and does not need any new machinery. For every kilo of stone, 50 gms of bitumen is used and 1/10th of this is plastic waste; this reduces the amount of bitumen being used. Plastic increases the aggregate impact value and improves the quality of flexible pavements. Wear and tear of the roads has decreased to a large extent," explains the proud Plastic Man of India.

This road construction process is extremely eco-friendly, with no toxic gases being released.

Learn more about him: Roads Made of Plastic Waste in India? Yes! Meet the Professor Who Pioneered the Technique.

Primla Hingorani

Unlike most septuagenarians, 72-year-old Primla Hingorani begins her day with an aerobics class. Then she heads home for an energy drink. After that, she heads out to do three to four kilometres of brisk walking or jogging. So far she has logged 500km in 100 days through running, jogging and walking.

Popularly known as Aunty 72, Primla is an inspiration for many. An avid athlete, marathoner and a passionate dancer, she has broken all the stereotypes of gender and age. Taking up fitness challenges even at this age, she has completed 500km in 100 days as a part of a challenge she undertook on behalf of a popular race 'Pinkathon', an event that raises awareness about breast cancer. Once she had completed it, she set herself another challenge—she calls this one the 'Aunty 72 challenge', where she wants to cover a distance of 125km in 25 days!

Saurabh Nimbkar

The 24-year-old man singing and strumming famous Bollywood numbers on his guitar is a familiar sight in Mumbai local trains running between Dadar and Ambernath these days. This young man, Saurabh Nimbkar, is using music for a mission—to collect funds for the treatment of cancer patients.

Four times a week, on his way back from work, he belts out popular Bollywood numbers for an appreciative audience that usually drops some money generously in his donation box.

Saurabh's mission stems from some difficult times he saw in 2013 when his mother was diagnosed with blood cancer and undergoing treatment at King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital in Mumbai. Throughout the treatment, Saurabh would carry his guitar to the hospital and play for the patients. His music would add cheer to the gloomy atmosphere in the cancer ward.

When I sang for the patients, the atmosphere became lighter. Even the doctors didn't stop me because they saw that it was having a good effect.

-Saurabh Nimbkar

"Everybody there was worried about something or the other, be it food, accommodation, availability of medicines and many other things. That's why it was nice to see that when I sang for the patients, some of this tension was relieved. The atmosphere became lighter. Even the doctors didn't stop me because they saw that it was having a good effect on the patients and their families," he recalls.

After overcoming the grief of his mother's demise, he decided to do something to help people struggling with cancer. He started collecting funds for the treatment of cancer patients—with the help of a guitar and a donation box. Employed with a pharmaceutical company, Saurabh's office is located in Ambernath; he travels from there to Dadar, and from there he takes a train back to his place in Dombivli. It is on these routes that he plays his guitar to collect funds. Saurabh manages to collect about ₹1000 during every trip. Some criticise him for collecting funds in this manner, while others appreciate his efforts. And while he receives mixed reactions from his audience in the trains, he is never demotivated and stays true to his ambition.

Saranya Das Sharma & Aamiya Vishwanathan

Not very long ago, Saranya Das Sharma was reading an article when a tragic statistic caught her eye—part of the reason young girls tend to drop out of school is their lack of access to menstrual hygiene.

So Saranya and her friend Aamiya Vishwanathan set out on a quest to ensure year-long sanitary napkin supplies to women and girls in need. They also conduct workshops on sanitary hygiene. And they manage to do all of this in between classes and ensuring they do well in their studies. Both of these young women are grade 11 students studying at The Shri Ram School Moulsari in Delhi.

"Right in the beginning we sat down and decided on the curriculum of what we would do and how we'd organise workshops. We start with teaching these girls how they can use and dispose of sanitary napkins. Then we talk to them about basic hygienic practices like bathing and washing hands. We also address taboo subjects and explain why they should not be ignored. We also teach them about some infections that can occur and how they can treat them," she explains.

By the end of this month, the girls would have distributed a year's supply of sanitary napkins to 200 girls across the city and they plan on increasing their reach to 1,000 girls and 20 schools by the end of the year.

Learn more about them here: How Two Delhi School Girls Are Keeping Hundreds of Girls in Govt Schools From Dropping Out!

To know about many such amazing change-makers who are transforming our lives every day, visit The Berter India.

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