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Meet the placard man with ‘wheelpower’ to spread awareness

From road safety to climate change, Sibu Das has been sending out many a message with slogans as he rides his bike through Kolkata

Jaismita Alexander | Published 08.11.22, 12:03 PM
Sibu Das with placards on his bike

Sibu Das with placards on his bike

All images by Sibu Das

When he’s not producing mnemonic syllables with his percussion instrument, Sibu Das, a full-time tabla teacher and a social activist, is spreading awareness among the masses with placards placed on his bike as he rides across the city.

A resident of Tollygunge, Das lives a modest life with his wife and son. As a teenager, he would be perturbed to see reckless bikers and motorists caring two hoots for people’s lives and road safety.


One day, a massive accident that he witnessed prompted him to take up the cudgels. He picked up a chart paper and scripted, perhaps his first slogan…‘Dirgho jeebi hotey jodi chan, sabdhane rastay paa baran (If you want to live long, be careful when you step out on the road)’. Many more slogans on road safety found place on Das’ handmade placards that he carried on his cycle. “I started earning money by teaching tabla when I was in Class X. I used a portion of this amount to buy the stationery items to make these placards.”

When activism is a part of life

The cycle gradually made way for a heavy-duty bike and the handmade placards were replaced by more durable flex boards in 2010. Apart from road safety, Das started spreading awareness about climate change, global warming, drug abuse and more. Das rides through the city eight hours a day to reach his students’ homes.

“My neighbours considered me weird as I spent my hard-earned money to make these placards. Some even asked me if I had ever succeeded in bringing about any change in the society through my mission? I tell them that every drop of water in an ocean counts. I am contributing in my own way,” Das said.

Das spends at least 40 per cent of his earnings every month on his placards. He also beautifies walls of his locality by white-washing them and using the space to script messages. “I get people to whitewash while I write these messages. We have done quite a few ‘wall paintings’ in the Lake Gardens area. Awareness slogans to save the environment, cleanliness, drug abuse etc. have adorned these walls,” he said.

With a flair for rhyming, this good Samaritan jots down his ideas in a notebook lest he forgets the same. “I might be in the midst of a traffic jam and suddenly some idea would strike me… I immediately jot it down.”


His slogans are mostly in Bengali but he writes Hindi and English ones too. The perfectly rhymed slogans have been widely appreciated. Several clubs and organisations have approached him to work with them on various projects. “Recently, I wrote a few slogans for a club that organised a blood donation camp in south Kolkata. Even Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim noticed my tagline and appreciated it,” said Das.

Das had written, “Tomar rokto daan-e jokhon bachbe ekti pran, tumi hobe tar kache bhogoban.”


The placard-man is often appreciated by the Kolkata Traffic Police personnel. “Traffic sergeants have often hailed my efforts. They have appreciated me and have honoured me at several functions. It feels nice to know that they value my work,” Das said.

He recently took part in the Durga Puja rally on September 1 where he carried placards bearing best wishes for Durga Puja.

Support from family

Das’ family is extremely supportive and proud of him. “Though I spend a lot of my earnings on these campaigns, my wife has never complained. She is supportive and happy that I spend my money on a noble cause and do not indulge in drinking or smoking.”

Das’ son, who studies in Class XII, is inspired by him and wants to go a step ahead by buying a car to take the awareness campaigns further.

Das says he has two families. “One in which my wife and son live, which provides me with love and care while the other is this world which provides me with the natural resources. Since we work hard to look after our families… we also need to give back something to the Mother Earth,” he vrooms away.

Last updated on 08.11.22, 12:41 PM

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