Sanket, a resident of Electronic City, has initiated this campaign using art, cycling and music.

This 15-yr-old Bengaluru teen is cycling to Mumbai to create awareness against bullying
news Human interest Sunday, May 20, 2018 - 09:55

“Youth is a period for learning and socialising, not for bullying and abuse,” says Sanket Maharshi, as he talks about ‘Speak Out’, a campaign initiated by him to spread awareness against bullying and sexual abuse.

At just 15, Sanket, a child artist, is using art, cycling and music to spread his message. He spent a week on paintings based on the campaign and gathered a team to compose a song for it. He will be cycling from Bengaluru to Mumbai to meet and speak to people. His journey will begin on May 21 from Cubbon Park and end on June 2 in Mumbai. While cycling, he will stop in towns and villages and speak to people to understand cases there.

Sanket says that he began painting when he was a 3-year-old.

“I have been painting for a long time. My mother works as a counsellor. She has seen many cases of bullying and sexual abuse. My friends have also been victims of it. This would bother me, so I decided to spread awareness about it and call the victims to speak out,” Sanket told TNM.

Sanket resides in Electronic city with his parents John and Rama. “My son was disturbed about the current rape cases in Unnao and Kathua. In the wake of these events, he decided this initiative in April,” John, his father said.

“Bullying and sexual abuse are serious cases and need to be discussed. It is good that our son has taken up such an initiative,” Rama, his mother said.

About his paintings

Shomi Banerjee has been teaching Sanket techniques to combine different strokes to his paintings since 2010. “Sanket is an enterprising student. We need to support his initiative,” Banerjee said.

He considers red as the thematic colour for the campaign. He describes one of his paintings on a red background, “It shows the despair and plight of the victim,” he said.

While in yet another painting, you see a combination of dark and bright colours. “The combination of colours narrates the desire of the victim to free oneself from the chaos of bullying and sexual abuse,” he explained.

Colours like these have been the central focus of Sanket’s paintings.  “Colour is the silent language to communicate with people. Teenagers nowadays are hesitant to speak out about such issues. They need to be bold and speak about it,” Shan Re, a renowned artist from Bengaluru said.

Art impacts people. Studies in Psychology suggest that this initiates thinking and discussion. “I know Sanket as a child. Bullying and Sexual Abuse is a serious issue. It needs public attention. Issues gain prominence only when they are collectively discussed and not restricted to individual efforts. So, we need to come together and speak out,” MG Dodamane, another artist from Bengaluru said.

Cycling between cities to speak out

“While you cycle, you can observe people around. It facilitates interaction and breaks the barrier of closed cars. Cycling is good for the planet and society. It keeps you physically and mentally fit,” Sanket said.

He approached famous Bollywood Art Director Sukant Panigrahi for this initiative. “Women who have been historically disenfranchised usually do not speak out. We will encourage people to do so through collective dialogue,” Panigrahi said.

Bullying and Sexual Abuse are more a psychological than criminal issue. “We as children are not thought ways to control our emotions. We blame stars rather than psychology for problems. We shy away from discussing about sex and do not encourage intimate respectable relationships between genders. It is difficult to see women as equal.  People discuss only cases of abuse, while causes and solutions are often ignored. Psychosexual development is termed less important. Children need to be encouraged to speak out. Dialogue is more important than drama,” television personality Deepak Thimaya said.

People appreciated Sanket for his initiative at a young age. “Young people who aim to bring about change in society need encouragement. They are more effective than adults,” Sandhya Mendonca, Author and Managing Director of Raintree Media said.   

Music is more than words

A song has been produced and composed by Chris Avinash for the campaign, with lyrics by Sadhu Nityanand and vocals by Ankita Kundu. The lyrics of the song are a way to reach out to the perpetrators of sexual bullying and sexual abuse and ask them how they would feel if they were the victims.

“This campaign uses art, cycling and music to reach out to people. I will try other methods in the future, and also organize workshops for school kids,” Sanket said.




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