Mumbai: The Times of India, one of India’s leading newspapers, has launched a unique initiative ‘The Times of a Better India’. This one-of-a-kind campaign, emphasizes the fact that the newspaper’s influence goes far beyond the confines of its pages. Over time, The Times of India has put the interests of its readers above everything else. In the process, they have gone beyond merely reporting the news transforming themselves into the role of an activist who believes in empowering citizens and working towards bringing about a transformative change in society.
As a part of the initiative, TOI invites readers to join hands and suggest issues that they think are critical for the nation. Readers can do so by sharing their views on www.timesofabetterindia.com or on Facebook/Twitter using #ForaBetterIndia. Based on these suggestions, the next big cause that TOI could champion will be selected and will be followed by raising awareness on the related issue.
Over the years, TOI has championed many causes, ranging from working towards improving the quality of public service (Lead India, I Lead India), bringing hitherto little-mentioned health concerns into the mainstream conversation (Fertile Conversations, Organ Donation Drive). Their other initiatives have seen them identify solutions and actively working for a cleaner environment (Green Drive, No Honking Drive, Water Positive, etc) as well as fighting for the rights of underprivileged communities (SindoorKhela, Scrap Sec 377). As a leading light of change, TOI became the voice for 290 million migrants within India who have been deprived of their voting rights (Lost Votes) to celebrating popular culture (City Festivals, Chance-e-illa, Happy Streets, etc).
In the words of Sanjeev Bhargava, Director – TOI, Mirror and TIMS Brands, “TOI believes that the success of these initiatives is a tribute to the efforts of its readers and it is their participation that has transformed these initiatives into movements for change. The Times of a Better India is our way of acknowledging these efforts and reaffirms our commitment to continue working for such causes.”
Individually, each of the initiatives went beyond its core idea and delivered an impact on the ground. Lost Votes took up the cause of 290 million Indians who had been unable to vote as they were staying away from their original place of residence within the country. The initiative voiced the need to enfranchise these migrants, with over 11 lakh signing an online petition for the same. The result of which saw the Election Commission acting towards making voting go mobile. Green Drive came at a time when environmental degradation was a major concern. In a unique public-private participation model, the program has seen over 12 lakh trees being planted by citizens across India. #ScrapSec377 has been a longstanding effort to give a platform to the LGBTQ+ community, making readers aware of their needs, fighting the discrimination that they faced and demanding equal rights for them. This has contributed to the Supreme Court decision which saw this law being scrapped. Organ Donation had been a little-known and rarely-discussed subject in India. TOI’s Organ Donation Drive brought this critical subject into mainstream conversation, busted myths and spread critical awareness about the process, making readers and those in authority sit up and work for a change. And change did happen – from about 4,000 organ donor pledges a year, the TOI initiative has seen over 1.7 lakh people pledging to donate their organs in a span of 6 years. Last but not the least, in an increasingly congested urban environment, where not just roads but pavements too have been swallowed by the ever-mounting burden of traffic, TOI’s Happy Streets recognized the need for the average pedestrian to reclaim their public space. Once every week, thousands of readers came together on a road that was virtually out of bounds to them and danced, played and cycled. Beginning in the national capital, the initiative has touched more than 20 cities and continues to grow, with nearly 2 lakh people joining each year.
Collectively, these initiatives showcase the positive force that TOI has been, that goes a long way towards building a better India. And now, for the first time, these varied initiatives have been brought together under one umbrella, ‘The Times of a Better India’.