Updated on: Thursday, December 30, 2021, 09:50 PM IST

Angels of Mumbai: Dia Mirza, Amruta Fadnavis, Suresh Kakani, Abhishek Banerjee and others endorse their favourites

A selection of well-known Mumbaikars shine the light on the city’s angels who became beacons of hope in the recent past. The focus is on gratitude for the invisible and seemingly insignificant actions that sustain the world.

Angel: Ratan Tata, Industrialist

Endorsed by: Lalchand Rajput, former Indian cricketer, and head coach of Zimbabwe


Special Achievement: “I was very impressed with the gesture made by Ratan Tata during the pandemic — Tata Group pledged Rs 1,500cr in support of the fight against Covid-19, and this apart from the charities and donations he regularly makes. It is known that he donates 60.65 per cent of his income to charity — be it the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, educational institutions, schools in rural areas, Tata Water Mission, etc. the list is endless. Tata has regularly donated for the last 10 years towards the welfare of the society. He is a visionary in the field of industries and even came up with the idea and manufactured the cheapest car in the world after he was moved by a family of four riding precariously on a two-wheeler. During the tough times of the pandemic, he showed that corporate houses can also be compassionate and empathetic towards their employees. Tata ensured that his employees were fully paid during the pandemic and nobody was asked to leave the job.”

Angel: Sonu Sood, Actor


Endorsed by: Anees Bazmee, Filmmaker

Special Achievement: Several people did a lot of things, but the one name that comes to my mind is Sonu Sood. He has done so much for the needy post the outbreak of the pandemic. The exodus of labourers during the early lockdown days made national headlines. Sonu stepped up and helped so many reach their homes... He arranged buses, trains and even planes for those who were desperate to reach their home towns. According to me, his actions made a huge difference not just to Mumbai, but the whole country given that his work is spread all across India. During these trying times, he truly motivated me with his humanitarian work. I was so moved that it prompted me to lend a helping hand to others in whatever way I could.

Angel: Marzy Parakh, Hotelier


Endorsed by: Ehsaan Noorani, Music Composer

Special Achievement: Marzy Parakh is always there to help people with various issues — whether it is the visually impaired or the ones who need surgeries... He is selfless and caring and we need people like him. Everyone can make a small contribution to society in whichever way they can, whether it is by helping somebody or by paying for someone’s surgery or education fees. Marzy has been quite active during the pandemic and has distributed food packages and provided financial aid.

Angel: Rajshri Deshpande, Actor and Founder of Nabhangan Foundation

Endorsed by: Abhishek Banerjee, Actor

Special Achievement: Rajshri Deshpande’s effort for social change and upliftment is unprecedented. She has done a lot of work in rural Maharashtra, red light areas, for the LGBTQIA+ community and has been instrumental in helping frontline workers and the underprivileged during the pandemic. In 2018, Rajshri established the Nabhangan Foundation to broaden her efforts towards sustainable village development. Someone has rightly said, “If villages perish, India perishes too.” And no one has understood that better than Rajshri. Her Foundation works for rural development and community building to empower villages to be self-reliant — after all villages are the roots of our society.

Angel: Sanjana Runwal, founder of Clean Up Foundation

Endorsed by: Amruta Fadnavis, Banker, Artist and Social Activist

Special Achievement: Seventeen-year-old Sanjana Runwal, the founder of the NGO, Clean Up Foundation, drives initiatives towards enhancing the lives of solid waste workers and ragpickers of the city. The Foundation’s activities include providing clean drinking water facilities, safety gear, healthy meals, medical insurance, education finance for children of garbage workers, free Covid-19 vaccination camps for ragpickers and multiple other activities. Sanjana was recently felicitated with a Certificate of Appreciation by Dr Jitendra Awhad, Minister of Housing for Maharashtra and Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Governor of Maharashtra, for her exemplary social work and her research paper on ‘Affordable Housing Solutions for Garbage Workers’ of the city. Sanjana firmly believes that this critical yet often overlooked segment of society deserves proper attention and better living conditions.

Angel: John Chacko, Former teacher who runs an orphanage

Endorsed by: Gautam Rode, Actor

Special Achievement: John Chacko, 64, a former teacher, has been running an orphanage, Daya Vihar Ashram, Malad, for the last 20 years. He ensures that these children get education, jobs and also strives to help them lead an independent life. He also helps destitute women and has helped girls get education and settle in life. John’s wife Maria, and his sons, Samuel and Daniel, have played an important role in his endeavour.

Angel: Dr Maharudra Kumbhar, BMC Officer on Special Duty at Seven Hills Hospital

Endorsed by: Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Western Suburb), BMC

Special Achievement: Dr Maharudra Kumbhar has been instrumental in setting up Mumbai’s first fully-equipped dedicated Covid hospital at Seven Hills. With his leadership and collaborative skills, he not only managed to initiate 1850 general Covid beds within 45 days after the outbreak of the pandemic, but also got on board efficient hospital staff (doctors, nurses, lab technicians and other support staff) from various parts of the country and established a smooth system for running of the hospital. Dr Kumbhar’s success mantra in effectively managing one of the country’s largest multispecialty Covid hospitals lies in proactively establishing risk mitigation plans, efficient team building and good communication skills. He also actively engaged in providing his Covid-related clinical expertise at various national and international scientific forums. During the first Covid wave, he was a key member in formulating treatment guidelines at Seven Hills Hospital. Since 2016, he has been the Officer on Special Duty at Seven Hills Hospital and has handled court matters for the hospital as well. Dr Kumbhar is humble, down to earth and a true reflection of selfless service to mankind.

Angel: Dr Gautam Bhansali, Consultant Physician, Bombay Hospital and BMC Chief Coordinator for private hospitals for Covid

Endorsed by: Preeti Sharma Menon, National Executive Member and Mumbai Prabhari, Aam Aadmi Party

Special Achievement: The silver lining during the pandemic has been the people who stepped up to help others — be it providing food packets or helping strangers reach their homes. Hence, it’s difficult to choose one person who I can say inspired me because, in the last year and a half, several ordinary people have done extraordinary things. And I thank them all; my life has become richer knowing them. But if I have to choose one person, then for me it is the medical community. Doctors, nurses and people who work in the medical sector have gone beyond the call of duty to help people. And I would particularly like to name Dr Gautam Bhansali, who is in charge of infectious diseases at the Bombay Hospital and was involved in Covid treatment, not just for private hospitals but also for municipal hospitals. If we talk about the Mumbai model of Covid, a lot of credit goes to Dr Bhansali, who went beyond the call of duty in these trying times. Thank you Dr Bhansali, and the entire medical fraternity for standing up for humanity.

Angel: Afroz Shah, Lawyer, Environmental Activist

Endorsed by: Dia Mirza, Actor

Special Achievement: Afroz Shah exemplifies the credo that one positive action is better than a hundred futile words. He also embodies the ‘power of one’ that can inspire legions of people to come together and manifest change. This is a man who could have walked past a littered beach like several others, but chose to get his hands dirty to painstakingly pick garbage and slowly nurse a beach back to health. In the process, this diminutive lawyer from Mumbai succeeded in organising one of the world’s largest beach clean-up projects, which has now grown into a global movement. He has helped remove 18,000 kg of plastic waste from the ocean, given motivational talks to inspire collective climate action and responsible consumption and this year, he and his team removed 28,000 kg of marine debris from the ocean. From educating people to uphold a circular economy at Sanjay Gandhi National Park to segregating waste at River Mithi and Versova, and cleaning mangroves, his passion to heal the earth is unrelenting. To honour him is to honour mother earth and it is time we heeded both and celebrated them.

Angel: Deepesh G Aggarwal, Consultant Physician and HoD Critical Care Medicine, Saifee Hospital

Endorsed by: Dr Om Srivastava, Director Infectious Diseases, Jaslok Hospital and Taskforce Member

Special Achievement: During the initial days of the pandemic, not much was known about the disease. Through scant reliable medical literature and our limited collective experience with the disease, he made protocols for the management. As the Head of Critical Care Medicine, along with a team of doctors and nurses, he formulated the treatment algorithm for patients in the ICU and wards. He also helped in Covid care setup in the hospital and the NSCI Jumbo Covid Centre. Saifee Hospital had one of the lowest mortality rates in Mumbai. There was fear and apprehension in the community and health care providers. So much so that our team was ostracised for looking after Covid patients. Due to travel restrictions and ostracisation of health care workers, he made accommodation arrangements for doctors and paramedical staff. Online consultation of OPD patients through various portals not only in India but worldwide (UAE), was possible because of him. As the vaccination drive started, he helped in awareness programmes, dos and don’ts before and after vaccination, etc.

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Published on: Friday, December 31, 2021, 07:00 AM IST