By Ruchika and Kunal
There's no disputing that Delhi Metro is the lifeline of this city. When you are travelling in Delhi metro coach, one thing that is easily noticeable is how everybody is glued to their mobile phones. Everyone seems so engrossed that they don't even know who their co-passengers are and the good old days of breaking the ice melts away. It's an eventless journey to an end, no acquaintances sought, no friends made. That is changing with some people enthusiasts trying to bring a change with their initiative called "Books On The Delhi Metro".
BooksOnTheDelhiMetro is a project that tries to draw people away from their phone screens and helps them curtail this digital addiction – by loaning them a book to read. Shruti Sharma was inspired to start this practice from an Instagram video featuring her favorite actress Emma Watson showing her dropping books on New York subway to encourage people to read. The idea struck a chord with her and she immediately decided to replicate the same in Delhi. She contacted "Books on the Move global" who organized the original event and consulted them extending it to Delhi. She soon got their approval and the mobile library came into being. Attracted to this unique initiative, Shruti and her husband Tarun Sharma, were soon joined in by volunteers.
The process is fairly easy and simple, BooksOnTheDelhiMetro places a book on any station of Delhi metro rail system with a sticker asking commuters to pick the book, read it and place it back as they found it. They post updates and clues about dropping the book on their Instagram and Facebook pages. There is no time limit for reader to return the book but they are expected to drop it back at any metro station once they have read it.
Commuters picking the books are expected to tag BooksOnTheDelhimetro informing that they have received the book. The initiative which started with Shruti and her husband donating books from their personal collection has appealed to many other people who have now come forth and donating their books and placed them on Delhi metro stations. They call themselves book fairies.
Gift of a friend for life
The duo meets up monthly with their volunteers to strategize distribution. Their collection has every genre and they also entertain special requests from their patrons and arrange for the books on demand. One such popular request was for books in Hindi language and the idea was executed. Anyone can donate books to BooksOnTheDelhiMetro and spread the rich culture of reading.
Soon after the initiative gathered momentum, media also generated awareness and encouraged the cultivation of a healthy habit rather than digital slavery.
While BooksOnTheDelhiMetro have managed to liberate people from their addiction their biggest woe is that they lose fifty percent of the books which are never returned or replaced. This reduces number of books from mobile library and weakens the movement.
Communicating sans the digital media
Aditi, student of mass communications from VIPS Delhi is a book fairy, she share how many people have approached them and appreciated the initiative in person. Now they consider reading books or talking to people around them instead of scrolling screens. There are people who love to read books but unfortunately can't afford them or don't have the time. BooksOnTheDelhiMetro has given them an opportunity to catch up with this. Many others have related that this exercise is like a treasure hunt for them and they make a rush for the books when dropped at metro station close at hand. That's the motivation that keeps the BooksOnTheDelhiMetro team going and their 'WORD' rolling.