Take a call on radio

Barbarism in the land of peace

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 4.11.08

Thirteen-year-old Priyanka Saha ran away at age nine from an orphanage where she would be beaten up and not given enough to eat. Now, the day boarder of Hridaypur Nabashopan, an NGO near Barasat, is talking about her experiences on 90.8FM, the Jadavpur University (JU) community radio channel set up in April under the School of Media, Communication and Culture.

Child Radio Reporter is about lending an ear to underprivileged children as they talk about hardships they have suffered, voice their grievances and question the authorities for their negligence.

Under a joint initiative by JU and Unicef, 20 of these children, between 12 and 17 years, mostly from south Calcutta NGOs, were shortlisted to participate in the programme, to be aired from Children’s Day on every Sunday at 5pm.

Says Ambalina Roy, an M.Phil student of the School of Women’s Studies, who also works at Radio JU: “We went to the NGOs and selected the youngsters from the brief performance each had put up.”

Those selected were trained by Radio JU members in the course of six workshops. They learned the essentials of speaking on air, interviewing people (“Abhishek Das, our programme coordinator, dressed up as actor Prosenjit and we had to interview him,” smiles Priyanka), hosting and recording a programme.

On October 26, the channel aired an interview of Karin Hulshof, the director of Unicef, India, conducted by four children. “The students spoke on social malaises they had experienced firsthand, including fathers beating up mothers, girls being married off young and trafficking,” says Nilanjana Gupta, the director of the School of Media, Communication and Culture.

And they don’t want to stop at just talking about it. “They want to ask cops questions like why they delay filing FIRs if the complainant hails from a poor background and why illegal liquor shops are often allowed to run in a locality,” added Gupta.

“India is a signatory to Article 12 on Convention on the Rights of the Child, according to which a child’s rights include being able to speak out on issues that affect kids. This programme aims to do that,” explains Anil Gulati, the communication officer of Unicef.

“The issues raised were selected by the kids themselves, rather than being initiated by us,” adds Gupta.

For Priyanka, who has lost her mother, the issue first on her mind was the problems faced by an orphan, too young to take on the world. “No one really comes forward to help such a person,” she says.

“We hope that in the course of the programme, the youngsters will learn of the options available to them to redress their problems,” says Gupta.

Priyanka is clearly enthused by the experience. “I have been practising hard. Along with three of my friends from the home, we have done mock interviews with our didi,” she gushes. Didi, Ratna Roy of Hridaypur Nabashopan, agrees. “They conducted the recent Vijaya Sammilani programme all by themselves. Their confidence has increased by leaps and bounds.”

Two capsules on child labour and domestic violence are next on the cards. “The children will be interviewing legal experts and police personnel for these segments,” says Gupta.

Subhajoy Roy


What’s on your mind this week

To cinema, with love

It was very heartening to read that a renowned school in Calcutta has started a film appreciation club. We were introduced to meaningful cinema, beyond Hollywood, while at St Xavier’s Collegiate School. However, it was an amateurish and unorganised attempt by a few fellow-enthusiasts. Even two years ago, cinematic milestones like The Bicycle Thief, The Seventh Seal or Rashomon were notoriously inaccessible to schoolboys like us. We had to rely on our contacts in Jadavpur University, the mass communication department in St Xavier’s College or the Bergman Retrospective at Seagull Art and Media Resource Centre to satisfy our interests. Forming a film club in school is so much better. You can study cinema in a more organised fashion while still in school. I would urge other institutions to take similar initiative and help film bugs.

Aruni Roy Chowdhury,
First Year, engineering

Barbarism in the land of peace

India has always been a land known for peace and love. But in the past few months, all our claims to Gandhian non-violence have been shattered. The latest instance being the Guwahati blasts. The most barbaric of such attacks are those made on the basis of religion. The Kandhamal violence in Orissa was another instance of a religious minority being targeted. Rather than addressing the problem, the destruction of Christian homes, churches and orphanages is being passed off as the result of a rift between the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the area. According to official records, more than 500 houses, 15 vehicles and 25 prayer houses have been burnt or damaged in Kandhamal. These episodes are no less than terrorist attacks. What will happen to civilisation if such acts of communal terrorism continue?

Aryaman Kejriwal
St Xavier’s College


Quiz on the cards

Starmark and Penguin Books India will hold the Puffin-Starmark Inter-School Quiz, 2008, at Gyan Manch on Sunday from 10am. Leading schools of Calcutta and the suburbs will take part in this national-level meet. For more information, contact Starmark.