Mumbai Marathon: 10th year running

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Niharika Datta Choudhary, a five-year-old from Powai, sat in a pram taking in the jovial atmosphere at Cross Maidan, from where the 'dream run' of Mumbai Marathon was flagged off. Over the pram, Niharika's parents had stuck a banner saying, 'Teach the world to respect me'.

Niharika's parents and her grandmother pushed the pram. "With all that has been happening in the country recently, we thought safety of women would be a fitting cause to support during this year's marathon," said Deepa, Niharika's mother.

After the Delhi gangrape and several cases of molestation ever since, and the feeling that Mumbai is not that safe anymore, many others also took up this cause this year. Some ran wearing T-shirts in honour of the victim while others carried banners of Hindi films that had women in lead roles.

NGOs working for the welfare of girls and women did their best to bring visibility to the issue. Many corporate houses also adopted the same cause. Gauri Sanand, a resident of Thane, ran the marathon with her colleagues from the Sankalpan Foundation, an architecture firm that has recently taken up corporate social responsibility.

"We have many women employees who work late hours. They are concerned about going home alone so late. Mumbai used to have a reputation of being a safe city, but it is not so anymore. If women from our organisation are realising that, other women must also be feeling unsafe," she said.

Some participants chose to promote better savings and investment, some ran for people suffering from ailments such as cancer, thalassemia and epilepsy, while others promoted eye, liver and kidney donation. "We have been running the marathon for seven years. Every year, the cause is eye donation. We have an eye bank that we operate free-of-cost," said Chetan Joshi, a member of the Rotary Club of Borivali.

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