A one-man army, raising India's Pride - Abhishek Kumar Sharma

Here is a proof of what one's deterministic passion towards a vision can help accomplish! Read on to know how the Prime Minister's call to clean the nation, made a citizen extraordinary!
IJ Kavyashree
Published on: 7th March 2016
“Economic growth is the tag that the world gives, when people over exploit the natural resources. This act of over exploitation of the resources leads to natural calamities and global warming. People affected by these natural calamities suffer even without food and water, leading to death. All of these are interlinked. If there is any kind of a problem that is occurring within the society, each of us is responsible!” are the most thoughtful words of the 28-year old Abhishek Kumar Sharma, an environmentalist and a research scholar.
Abhishek Kumar Sharma
Having done researches in solid waste management and worked in different designations, did not really give the joy to Abhishek, when compared to what he does today. When the mission of ‘Swachh Bharat’ was launched by Shri Narendra Modi, this young man decided to support the vision in every way possible. He also planned to contribute the next five years of  his life towards various causes, the first being ‘Swachh Bharat’. Immediately, he resigned his job, took his bicycle, left his home to reach out to every part of the country to create awareness about the cleanliness campaign. He started from his own state - Uttar Pradesh, and began to reach out to schools and colleges to create awareness in them. It was obvious that not many believed in his words, and did not permit him to address the students. His faith did not break with such responses, rather increased. He moved out to villages nearby, and started sharing with them, the importance of staying hygienic, rural water and sanitation awareness and keeping the surrounding environment clean.

Abhishek had, by then decided that he would not spend a single rupee throughout the travel, believing in the citizens of the country whom he thought, would help him with food and shelter when needed. As he continued to spread the vision, the support from people began to increase. “The entire world is a family. So, whenever I was there at someone’s house, I was at the house of my own family. I never felt a difference. There was so much love in every morsel of food they served me” says Abhishek. Eventually, schools and colleges in the cities he travelled, began to invite him as he continued to spread the awareness in every way possible.
Abhishek Kumar Sharma
Abhishek’s travel began to become more interesting when he started an additional campaign to make the current campaign effective. It was called the ‘psychological magical poster campaign’. Through this campaign, he made people create posters through their own writings and in the regional languages. The posters that read, ‘Do not litter anywhere. Keep your city neat and clean’, also had the name of the person who made the poster, address, their designations at work and sometimes even their photographs. These posters were made to be posted near every house and office around. Abhishek felt, “One feels responsible when he/she has creates such posters by himself/herself. Otherwise, nobody wants to take responsibility. To change the mindset, habit and behaviour, this campaign was created. If we change, the country will also change!”

While a lot of them feel that there is no one to support such causes, there were so many who joined hands to support Abhishek’s initiative. A few airlines came forward to help him travel via flights with complementary tickets, at times when needed. Hotels including Taj, ITC and many others helped his stay and many a times with a complimentary breakfast, lunch or dinner. At the same time, people in the villages invited him to their houses to serve him a meal. Hyderabad branch of Mytrah Energy Limited helped his travel and his stay at many hotels. There was support everywhere. Although language seemed to be a barrier in a country like India where the tradition, culture, language, and rituals change every few kilometers, Abhishek very well shares how he faced it, “Honestly, the only language I can speak really well is Hindi and I can communicate in English too. The beauty about my initiative is that, it did not really need a language to share my feelings. We are all humans and we can understand each other through expressions. I have survived and have been able to impact people in Karnataka, when I never knew Kannada; I could impact lives in Kerala and I could not speak Malayalam; I have survived in those core areas of Tamilnadu, where people could not even understand English. They were still able to understand and relate to what I would share with them. There was so much to learn from each of them. I just loved the different traditions and the living standards.”
Abhishek Kumar Sharma
There were many supporters from around the globe, one of them whom Abhishek specially mentions is about Danielle Fazzolari. Danielle from New York, happened to volunteer for Abhishek’s vision, when she met him during Abhishek’s travel. Her passion to support such vision pushed her to accompany him for 3200 kilometers from Rajasthan up to reaching Karnataka border, an overall travel with him across four states for about 60 days.

Pausing this joyful journey, and on asking about some of the biggest challenges he faced, he said with a glorious smile, “There were numerous challenges that I had to face. Firstly, I was not a professional cyclist and so, it was not easy for me to go via a cycle throughout the country. Initially I had thought that I would travel by a motorbike and later I realized, it would not have been right for me to go on a travel in a bike which would pollute the air. As an environmentalist, I decided to use a cycle. Later on, I realized it was not so easy to ride a normal bicycle, but the mission I wanted to accomplish had a higher priority when compared to my comfort level. I moved on with more belief; as I continued, I felt it was quiet okay  to be cycling. Fortunately, Firefox Bikes sponsored a bicycle for a better travel. I would like to thank Mr Ajit Gandhi, the Marketing Head of Firefox Bikes Pvt Ltd for the wonderful support. Today, I can proudly say I am a professional cyclist, having travelled more than 20,000 kilometers in a bicycle. The next challenge was people - to make people believe in the vision and get them to pledge that they would keep their surroundings clean was surely not an easy task. There were many more challenges that included getting adjusted to the climate. Those hot climate in the areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan, the snowfalls in and around Jammu and Kashmir, those heavy rainfall in the south - it was not at all easy to stay healthy in the middle of so many changes in the environment. There were times when I would travel through forests, and  there were wild animals around. Once there were a group of elephants that almost attacked me, and fortunately, I escaped from them. The list would just go on, but the best part about all of them is that, today I have a story to share. I have faced struggles that not many would have. I have become a story of belief - from not being a cyclist to becoming a professional cyclist. More than all of this, I have impacted lives, to keep their surroundings clean.” Amidst the challenges were some of the best moments when he was invited by various medias. He was also once interviewed by the Big B, Amitabh Bachchan, which was one of the best memories he says.
Abhishek Kumar Sharma
Meanwhile, Abhishek’s journey touched the hearts of everyone including the Prime Minister himself, when he called Abhishek to meet him and congratulate him for the impact he casted. “That was one of the best meetings of my life” he says, “when the Prime Minister of the country asks ‘How are you? How is your health?’ what more can bring happiness. I got an opportunity to even share some time with him during lunch. There were many more good moments when the ministers of various states got connected with me. I would actually meet them all when I went to their states; I would even request them to support this massive campaign. A lot of schools and colleges eventually started inviting me to speak in their institutes. In about thirteen months, I was able to take 4,278 lectures impacting more than 3.2 million students across the country. Apart from students, I got to spread awareness to lakhs of villagers, people at the hospitals, tea shops, and everywhere possible.”

20,000 Kilometers, 25 states , 415 districts has been the trail, Abhishek has so far marked. He also credits his success to people who helped him reach this far, “I would like to thank Mr Vikram Kailas, MD of Mytrah Energy and the CSR Head Mr RS Sharath and Mr Pawan for the humungous support. I would also like to thank my cycling guru Mr Ajay Chawla, who has a Firefox cycle store in New Delhi. Also, it was an immense pleasure to be travelling with Danielle, whose support was surely a booster during the journey.” Abhishek will be travelling to Europe at the end of March, 2016 to travel to 34 countries of Europe including Denmark, Ireland, Hungary, Switzerland, France, Finland, Norway and more. His theme for the next year shall be ‘Global Climate Change, Sustainable Environmental Development and World Peace’. He shall move around Europe with his bicycle as much as possible, creating awareness, also learning their culture and sharing about the Indian culture. He adds, “I shall also create awareness on the importance of yoga and meditation. I will continue to ride the same bicycle that will have an Indian flag attached. It will have a small box, where people could contribute their bit and I promise to use it in the best way possible to help protect our environment.”

Abhishek Kumar Sharma’s thought provoking words and action only prove that there is so much more goodness in the world. His passion and belief to be the reason to create a change, can ignite anyone to work towards the same. Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine wishes him the very best, for all his endeavors. The best shall happen to the best set of people, with the best intention, to create the best and a positive impact!

Stay tuned to learn about his trip that starts at the end of March, which shall be exclusively shared with the readers of iUeMagazine!
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