They are the uncommon commoners, the unlikely heroes. These comrades-in-compassion shun the tag of social workers, stay away from the limelight and, unmindful of recognition, work quietly towards making the world a better place to live in. Unsung, undiscovered and happy to be so, such silent crusaders dedicatedly contribute their mite to larger-than-life commitments. Theirs is a style far removed from that of the socialite, publicity-seeking social worker or even that of the organised NGO sector.
A pair of chappals in his jhola, retired schoolteacher Desraj Chhabra scours the streets of Delhi to find someone with slipper-less feet he can help. Navin Rai, bank manager at Katihar in Bihar, makes an unaccounted contribution to the literacy mission by insisting that loan applicants learn to sign their names first. Bakhtyar Irani, owner of a run-down Irani restaurant in the Bombay suburb of Thane, religiously feeds all stray dogs in the area even though it dents his meagre profit margin. "I don't count costs. When it comes to animals, I can't bear to see them in distress," the restaurateur says.