Bengaluru street art tackles women’s safety, drug abuse, and cybercrime


Sayam Pore with his graffiti

Sayam Pore with his graffiti. Photo Courtesy: Praveen Sudevan

Graffiti for Hope, an initiative led by Rotary International, has brought social issues to the forefront. A portion of the wall adjacent to Bengaluru's Adugodi police station is no longer a blank canvas – it is now alive with graffiti by Kolkata-based artist Sayam Porey. This unique project is a collaborative effort between Rotary and Bengaluru Police.

Project Coordinator, Nivedita Dutta, envisioned a sustainable, impactful way to raise awareness about women's safety, drug abuse and cyber crime – the three most important issues identified by Bengaluru Police. “Street art sticks in people's minds long after an event or campaign fades,” she says. “We created this initiative specifically to reach out to Bangalore's large youth population. Chose art.

Syam's murals are intentionally disturbing. “I want people to feel something, even if it's uncomfortable,” he says. His depiction of a woman's tear-filled face is reminiscent of domestic violence. A crouching figure surrounded by a syringe represents the destructive grip of addiction. He adds, “The same concept is behind graphic anti-smoking advertisements. If words don't work on a poster, confronting raw pain through art can help.

The symbolism of Saiyam is woven through graffiti. A hooded figure with stolen digital data represents the dangers of cyber crime. At the same time, a dove represents hope for a more peaceful future. He incorporates vibrant colors and geometric shapes inspired by the dynamic energy of Bengaluru. “I wanted the art to feel like it belonged in this city,” he says.

The positive response from the public has excited organizers and artists alike. Nivedita highlights the outpouring of support: “When people saw Sayam working in the hot sun, they stopped to watch, volunteer and give water and sugarcane juice. He shared his genuine appreciation. “The project touched lives even before it was finished.”

Sayam was particularly impressed by the open-mindedness of Bengaluru residents. “They are not stuck in stereotypes; They are developing, their thinking is dynamic. They are open to understanding new things. People were really getting the message, accepting and understanding these difficult topics,” he says.

He was also impressed by the generosity of the local people, who offered him refreshments and encouragement as he battled the scorching heat of Bangalore during his painting sessions.

The project also appreciates the city police. One mural depicts a hand representing victims reaching out towards a supporting police hand. “People sometimes have this misconception about the police – that they are all abusive or evil. But the Bengaluru police I met were polite and cooperative.

Nivedita reflects on their logistical challenges, “It is difficult to introduce any new concept, especially a concept like graffiti, which is sometimes misunderstood. However, the positive response and support from Bangalore Police and the public has made the effort worthwhile.

The graffiti for hope project merges art, social awareness and the innovative energy of Bengaluru. The walls of the Adugodi Police Station now stand as a powerful reminder that change begins by accepting difficult truths and taking steps, however small, to create a brighter future for everyone in the community.

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