The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hand in hand on same canvas

Soch liya hai humne jo mann mein,

Kar dikhayenge hum wahi,

Badlenge hum yeh zamana…

Words of change were sung this Sunday to mark Anti-Child Labour Day. Intersect, a youth forum supported by Sanlaap, kicked off its campaign ahead of the April 30 landmark to encourage the idea that children from all walks of life can live as equals.

Part of ‘Canvas’, as the evening was called, was an exhibition of artwork, created by children and youth between 14 and 18 years of age, the products of a workshop on April 25. The 20 participants represented a wide socio-economic spectrum. Child labourers and victims of trafficking shared a platform with school students from ‘privileged’ backgrounds.

For Intersect, born a year ago, this is the first public awareness campaign, held in collaboration with Oxford Bookstore and supported by the Interact Club of Apeejay School. Both the workshop and the interactive event on April 27 prompted reflection on what a day in the life of a child labourer could be like. While the images found expression on canvas, the mood was one of discovery — of shared experience and the similarities between lives of those that appear to be so different.

“I have seen child domestic workers in homes around me all my life. It never occurred to me that this was a form of exploitation,” says Sunil, a Class X student of Apeejay School. “Even if these kids are forced to work to earn their daily bread, it is the responsibility of the employers to ensure that the child is educated,” adds one of his classmates.

“We live such fragmented lives,” mused Bobby Singh, who had painted three diyas, naming her creation ‘Flames’. “Some get the opportunity to burn bright, while others live half-lives like a weak flame. Every day, so many of those flames burn out.”

The event, where child vendors from Park Street were also present, began with an adda between the kids, with the artwork on the walls as a colourful backdrop. Discussions on day-to-day issues turned emotional when some of the students realised that the kids sitting beside them in the bookstore — many of whom sell chewing gum on Park Street — were the same faces they shoo away.

After the adda was over and baskets of candies did the rounds, a band from Apeejay School provided musical entertainment.

The works will be on display at Oxford Bookstore till later this week, where also, on Wednesday, teens will interact with developmental workers on the same issue.

— Sangeet Shirodkar,

Apeejay School


Tracing footprints

On April 26, the Don Bosco Park Circus football ground turned into an open-air stadium. The occasion was the celebration to mark Fr. Albert Thotunkal’s 50 years in the Don Bosco Salesian family, for which the whole school came together. The boys of Classes III to V welcomed the audience of around 5,000 to an evening of song and dance composed and choreographed by teachers and students. The rector then delivered an address on Father Albert’s life and work.

The boys of the junior section of the school kept up the tempo with Bengali and Hindi songs, a musical presentation called ‘A Rainbow of our Lives’ and a short skit about Father’s childhood days. The seniors from school teams then took the stage for a song-and-dance line-up, dedicated to Father Albert. The Night School and Technical sections were not far behind with their tribute. The last event of the evening was a tribute to Father Albert, entitled ‘Golden Footprints on the Sand’. The past pupils and teachers also paid their respects to the veteran.

— Surjo Deb

Class XII, Don Bosco School, Park Circus


Healthy move

Over 80 domestic child labourers received a complete health check on Saturday at Loreto Day School, Sealdah. The children were identified by the students of the host school as well as the Loreto chapters in Entally, Dharamtala, Elliot Road and Assembly of God Church School, as part of a “hidden domestic child worker” programme. The students convinced the employers of many labourers to send the kids to school. They were also recently given an eye check-up and a dental exam is on the cards.

Though around 280 children have been identified as domestic workers, not all their employers will let them go for such camps. “The employers feel that if they let their ‘servants’ go for even half-an-hour, they won’t do the work,” says Shagufta, a Class VI student of Loreto, Sealdah, who went door-to-door, trying to convince families to let the kids come to the camp.

The Interact Club of Apeejay in association with the Foundation for Advancement of Surgery and Treatment also held a health check-up camp on April 27 for children dwelling in Mullickbazaar slums and under the care of Ashadeep, an NGO. The event, supported by the District Interact Council, saw various specialists examine around 120 children.


In their elements

There’s a new band in town. The Elements has in its ranks six young guys from city schools. After two short gigs — one at Someplace Else and another at CC&FC — the band is getting its act together. The old and young alike have responded to its music, comprising classics like Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

The band consists of Bodhisattwa Ghosh on the lead guitar, Ritesh Sahay on rhythm, Surjyo Das on bass, Karan Kapoor on the keyboards, Rupak Doshi on the drums and Debarun Roychoudhury as lead vocalist.

The crowd at CC&FC’s Bar Nite on April 26 just couldn’t get enough of The Elements’ line-up of rock ’n’ roll hits. Young though these boys may be, their music hit home with the older crowd. The offers are pouring in, and Calcutta is sure to hear much more from these “elemental” music enthusiasts.


Bard’s birthday

The questions ranged from the simplest — ‘Who said this and in which play: To be or not to be that is the question’ — to teasers like ‘In which Shakespeare play does the reference to India appear for the first time'’ The Shakespeare quiz, conducted by Prof Annapurna Palit, was part of the Bard’s birthday festivities jointly organised by Deshbandhu College for Girls and the Shakespeare Society of Eastern India on April 23.

The quartet from Women’s Christian College, Gargi Sarkar, Srabonee Chakraborty, Atrayi Roy and Ruplina Bhowmik, scored a mammoth 140 points and ran away with the first prize. Sri Shikshayatan picked up the second prize while Deshbandhu Girls, Asutosh et al brought up the rear.

The Shakespeare Choir — comprising Professors Shreela Roy, Shima Mukherji, Dattatreya Dutt, Debasish Chatterjee, Shukla Sen, Sunanda Mukherji and Prodyut Ganguly — added to the fun with their presentation of the Bard’s songs in the original English tunes and translations and variations in Bengali and Hindi. An international seminar on Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights also took place, with papers presented by professors from around Bengal and Charmazel Dudt representing the University of Texas.

Tapu Biswas,

M. Phil, Rabindra Bharati University


All for nature

Creations, one of the biggest events on the school club circuit, is just around the corner. The nature club of La Martiniere for Girls is hosting its annual fest on May 2 and 3. The theme this year is Calcutta — Reality Bites, and the fun-fest with a cause will have events like western music, dance, debate, quiz and dustbin painting.

Another school has joined the nature club block. On April 23, South Point High School, launched Naturally Ours, which has already started work with an anti-plastic bag drive.


Aid abroad

How many Indian students go to the US' What do you take with you' How to apply to business schools in the US' Ready to go', a magazine, dubbed ‘India’s first interactive magazine for study abroad’, launched in April, gives students the low-down on all such information.

The magazine has been launched in seven cities including Calcutta, by the city-based Machino Group. The bi-monthly publication will be circulated through a niche distribution network of schools, colleges, libraries, counsellors, education centres, coffee chains and even travel agents, informs Arjun Jindal, managing director of Machino Media. It targets both students and young executives who wish to pursue a professional course abroad to hone their skills, he adds.

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