Cycling for the health of the nation

While Swaccha Bharath Abhiyan gains momentum each passing day, with a majority of participants and volunteers posing before cameras just to seek publicity, here is a man who has been silently involved in the mission since the last 14 years, much before Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launched the popular campaign.

Umapathy Mudaliyar, son of A K Appaswamy Mudaliyar, a freedom fighter, has taken up the endeavour of educating the masses about the importance of maintaining cleanliness and hygiene.  Drawing inspiration from his father, Umapathy, who hails from Arsikere in Hassan district, first began his campaign against the ill effects of AIDS, in the year 2001. With the message ‘cleanliness is godliness’, Umapathy subsequently started taking out a cycle jathas across the State and the country, having pedalled 23,680 km.

Now, inspired by Swaccha Bharath Abhiyan campaign, he is all set to take out ‘Halliyinda Delhiyavarige’ cycle jatha, from Mysuru taluk, to New Delhi, where he hopes to meet Modi.

The 69-year-old will begin his cycle jatha on December 3 and pedal through T Narasipur, Nanjangud, H D Kote, Hunsur, Periyapatna, K R Nagar and move on to the final leg, New Delhi.

Daily routine

Armed with brooms, Umapathy’s day begins at 6 am. First he reaches one of the temples nearby and starts cleaning the premises with one broom, while keeping the other two brooms on the road for interested volunteers. Later, he identifies the prime locations which are littered with garbage, and begins cleaning such areas.

Sharing his experiences with Deccan Herald, Umapathy said, he began creating awareness on AIDS from Arsikere, decade ago. An electrician by profession, he works for nine months and takes out a cycle jatha during the remaining three months. Till now he has pedalled through Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and others.

His attempts to meet the then President of India Pratibha Patil during his visit to Delhi in 2010, proved futile. Disappointed, he had abandoned his cycle, which is still lying in Karnataka Bhavan in Delhi, he claims. However, former MP H Vishwanath, spotting his cycle at the Bhavan was delighted to hear his endeavour and arranged a vehicle for him to go sight seeing, he recalled.

His several attempts to meet Chief Minister Siddaramaiah have also failed, with the CM’s office asking him to meet the former at Belagavi, where the Legislature session will be held. Understanding that it is impossible to meet him there, Umapathy planned the ‘Halliyinda Delhiyavarige’ trip.

He also recalled the support extended by Mysuru DC Shikha where she has allowed him permission to stay in the government guest houses, whenever he is visiting the district. Umapathy carries with him the letter which directs all the tahsildars in Mysuru district to provide him with accommodation facilities during his mission.

Though he do not expect any favours, Umapathy says he utilises the cash presented by volunteers to print handbills, pamphlets and others to create awareness.
Gold medals
Umapathy is also the proud winner of 13 gold, 8 silver and 7 bronze medals in various sports events held for senior citizens (60-65 yrs category).
Umapathy says he was shocked to find Chamundi Hill strewn with garbage and appeals to residents to keep the pride of Mysuru clean. He has also urged the authorities to provide drinking water facility to Malekal Tirupati temple, in Hassan.
DH News Service

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