The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City Lights
All for children of lesser god

This Children’s Day, kids cutting across socio-economic milieus, had a ball with various institutions and corporates chipping in to make their day.

The Bhagirathi Neotia Woman & Child Care Centre played host to 35 mentally and physically challenged children between six and 12 years of age from Offer, an NGO working with “severely compromised” children, trying to integrate them into the mainstream through education and skill upgradation. Tollywood star Raima Sen and Chokher Bali child artiste Abhishek Bose added colour to the festivities, spending time with the children. The programme commenced with a colouring contest on a giant canvas, followed by an entertaining cultural programme of music and dance, organised by the children themselves.

Madhu Neotia, director of the centre, said: “It was a special feeling for all of us at the hospital to celebrate the day with these children from Offer. Through events like this, we hope to bring some joy to their lives and also to sensitise others about their plight. We also have a free clinic at the centre for needy children.”

CRY, which has raised resources and supported hundreds of child-development initiatives all over India in the past 24 years, has always believed one can “make a difference” without dramatically altering one’s lifestyle. “Our Sunshine campaign shows just how simple it is. All one has to do is buy a special Sunshine T-shirt and pencil and encourage their friends and family to do the same to reach out to an underprivileged child,” explained a CRY spokesperson. The Sunshine T-shirts and pencils are available at the CRY office. One can call 98304 47047 or 24148055 to order them.

Staying with CRY, AirTel customers who called up a special number on Children’s Day could hear Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s voice. The proceeds of the calls will go to the NGO.

There was Hyatt Regency hosting 40 children from Prem-e-Asha, a school for the underprivileged. Piu Sarkar did an “action painting” which was sold to raise funds for the school and Bikram Ghosh was at hand to encourage the kids.

Oxford Bookstore organised an Open House for children of all age groups. The bookstore wore a festive look with a special sale of children’s favourite titles. There were storytelling sessions, fun and games, surprise gifts and lots more. “We didn’t have a structured programme, but just decided to go with the flow, allowing the children to just be themselves. The primary aim, of course, was to encourage the habit of reading,” explained Maina Bhagat, events consultant.

Cola giant Coca-Cola added fizz to the fun by distributing free Coke and gifts like T-shirts, caps, balloons, sweets and memorabilia to 300 spastic children from the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, Taratala.

It wasn’t as if the children sat back to enjoy everywhere. They also took active part in some shows. At All India Radio, eight children from Narendrapur Blind Boy’s Academy ruled the airwaves. They sang in chorus and at abandon, from nursery rhymes to Nazrulgeeti (Projapoti, projapoti) and Rabindrasangeet (Ore orey orey amar mon metechhey). But the high point of the afternoon transmission was their interaction with singer Antara Chowdhury, live on air.

“Our comperes also related incidents from Nehru’s life to make them understand the implication of children’s day,” said Sriparna Acharya, in-charge of the children’s section at Akashvani Bhavan.

Here’s to all those initiatives — public and private — that made the day a special one for tomorrow’s citizens.

Tele talk

Quality TV programming was the topic of discussion over two days at the Max Mueller-Bhavan (MMB), with public-service television in Germany and Europe and that in India at the heart of the seminar. The guest speakers at the meet, which concluded on Saturday, included Hans Juergen Rosenbauer from Germany.

Rosenbauer started his career as a journalist in the late 1960s and worked as a writer, director, commissioning editor and presenter for various newspapers, public radio stations and television channels in Germany. Now, he is professor at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne and, since 2001, president of INPUT (International Public Television), a commission created to promote the exchange of television programmes, ideas, and production techniques among broadcasters around the world. Its goal is to challenge and motivate producers to improve the quality of public service broadcasting worldwide.

Rosenbauer expressed interest in setting up a new station in India. “But there is a big difference in the understanding of public service television,” he said. “Public service television in this country is linked with the government. In Germany, this is not so.”

“Underground television” is how local documentary film-makers described their craft, with the lack of a visible platform for their work. The film festival circuit is their only hope, they added. Difficulties in making a critical documentary were also discussed, starting with the hurdles in getting permits and financial help. Commercial concerns also limit what kind of films channels are willing to air.

Rosenbauer had with him a selection of rarely seen, offbeat films, which he shared with his audience. “The idea is to stimulate film-makers around the world, to show them what is possible,” explained Rosenbauer.

Anja Damm


In 1977, three friends founded Argus Quiz Club to cultivate quiz as an intellectual pursuit. Soon after, the club launched an annual quiz event in Calcutta under the aegis of the now-defunct Association of Quiz Organisers (AQuO). The annual event, titled Argus Open, continued for years with exclusive sponsorship from a toothpaste brand. Gradually, with many innovations, it grew into one of the most popular mind sport events in the region.

This year, it celebrates its silver jubilee. The Argus Open Quiz is being held from November 14-15, at the Dalhousie Institute.

The club has many firsts to its credit. It was the first to launch state-of-the art software for presenting live quiz shows. It was also the first to run a quiz in local languages organised by various Rotary and Lions Clubs.

T topper

Duke, the “biggest T-shirt” company in India, records its highest sales in eastern India, and Calcutta is the trend-setter for the rest of the region. Ravinder Baweja of Duke was recently in town, ahead of winter boom time. “Sales go down in the north and western regions of the country, with dipping temperatures. But in the east and south, T-shirts continue to do well,” says Baweja.

The success of the “mass-market brand”, feels the sales manager, is in its value for money proposition. While Deer Club is the brand with the highest sales in Calcutta, Duke’s wallet-friendly range is close on its heels. With 125 retailers here, reaching consumers is also no problem, and soon, an exclusive retail venture may also follow, with one already opening shortly in Bhubaneswar.

Poetry on the roof

Keki N. Daruwalla, one of the country’s best-known poets writing in English, will be in town nest week. And Srijan, the city’s best-known rooftop address, has lined up an evening with the author on Monday. Film-maker Ashok Vishwanathan and professor of the English department at Calcutta University Krishna Sen will read from his works.

Action replay

Spotlight, one of the city’s most active English theatre groups, is back on stage with four consecutive performances of Close Encounters. From November 22 to 25, at Gyan Manch, Cedric Spanos, Cyrus Madan, Pradip Mitra and Rita Roy will perform two one-act plays, Terrence McNally’s Next and Peter Swet’s The Interview. Be there.

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