Stolen Innocence

The story of a young girl locked up behind the doors of a brothel.Read to know if the key to unlock the door was found.

Amidst the darkness of the night, the massive house that stands like a giant on the dead end of the road is all lit up. Seems like a celebration going on in the house. People flooding in and women decked up with makeup and glitter. The huge house is the shelter for many. Giving them a place to live, food to eat and a profession to work. The house dwellers are used to the culture of the place.

But Reena, the fourteen years old feels uneasy in this crowded house. Tears stream down her face as she thinks about the horrific day. Memories still flash in her mind of her hair being pulled, of being dragged through the dirt streets after a failed escape. Even though she cried, screamed for someone to help her, people just stood by watching, without even a look of sympathy. But this was a usual sight for the people of the brothel who are now accustomed to the cries and pain of the women who were forced into the big house.

The practice of deal and bidding started as the place dazzled in lights and with women wearing colorful sarees and red lip color. Hari and Manoj indulged in a quick chat with Ramesh. A few gestures exchanged with a little sum of money and they climbed the step to enter the zone of pleasure.

Reena saw someone entering the dark room through a corner. Their footsteps echoed in the room. One of the men lit up his lighter and the candles through it. The youngest dweller of the brothel was hiding her in another corner of the room. “We have paid extra for you, you cannot run away from us”, Manoj said with a wickedness on his face. They held her tight and threw her on the bed and the light faded to hide the brutal act in it. Reena’s heart pumped fast as the men left the room after a few hours and disappeared in the darkness of night. She couldn’t help but think over about what the men just did.

The next morning wasn’t the same. The house was crowded but the faces were different. The doors of the room were knocked like before, but the knock was different. The women were called, but this time it was a call of freedom. Police caught hold of the brothel owners and the people involved in human trafficking. The women narrated their untold stories with their eyes soaked in tears recalling the painful memories they had.

Reema sat in a corner rewinding last night, which wasn’t different from the other nights. She could not forget the men who entered her room. They came not for pleasure, but for a purpose secretly carrying a pen. Her cries, pain, tears and story were all captured in the little pen they had. Her story captured to be shown to the world and to free them from the chains of prostitution and slavery. They were the angels disguised in black. The camera disguised in a pen.

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SIMC undoubtedly gave us a roller coaster ride in just one year, a lifetime of experiences. From being freshers to bringing and guiding in freshers, from assignments to exams, from days when you have no time to breathe to the 22 hour sleep days. Sometimes giggled, other times upset, this one year of college we can never forget.

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When the last days of the 1st year arrived,

We got to remember and revive,

The one year of gaining knowledge

From this prestigious college.

SIMC gave us a bagful of happy days

The campus is majestic but seems to be a maze,

Classes here are fun, filled with activities,

They mold, check and improvise our abilities.

You’ll find some or either no textbooks

The students here have the craziest of looks,

Always you’ll see a camera on their shoulder

With the clicks of joy, we all grew older.

Classes had humans cause of the sword of attendance,

Benches is always houseful with couples in romance.

We came to the college with lots of excitement,

But everything faded with the burden of assignment!

Here you’ll find spirit of team and leadership,

Students find family in their friendship,

Climbed the mountain but have to cross the sea,

One year is done, but one more to go in SIMC.

The future of Community Radio in India

With all the noise around new technology

We tend to forget the old.

In search of diamonds, we lose the gold

The future of it will slowly unfold.

It can create wonders, it can bring revolution,

Music with info turns into a great combination

Though the country is moving towards digitalization,

But nothing can overpower a community radio station.

Digitalisation is the new media, believes the new generation and the government. Undoubtedly the internet is ruling the minds of the people and is a big threat to the old mediums of communication specifically radio. When it comes to community radio, a lot of development is to be done to increase its audience. Radio often plays a side role in advertising plans in India, an add-on to television, print and now even new media.

Community radios are a central form of communication, information and entertainment for low-income communities, where the internet is not easily available. Radio got a new identity after FM radio was opened up to private players in 2001. That makes it a relatively new market comprising of people from the rural India and economically weaker sections.

Community radio anyways has a very niche audience and it is mainly to aware the people about a social cause. The future of community radio is though dwindling but the developers should be more concerned about the awareness it creates. PM Narendra Modi initiative of the monthly address on Mann ki Baat on All India Radio also gave a boost to the radio industry.

The objective with which a community radio is established engages not only people interested but also lives of many others. It empowers the minority groups like women, LGBT community, disabled, North Eastern and many others to come together and upgrade themselves. It gives a voice to them and imparts entrepreneurial skills through its non-financial services.

A major reason why the growth of this sector has been slow is financial consideration. Supported by NGOs, they don’t have much of government aid. Also, license and policies tie the feet of the low-budget stations. If we think about subscriptions working for them, then we must come to the reality of rural India which doesn’t have earnings to pay for subscriptions. Minimal advertisers don’t adequately fund them. Technical know-how of radio is lacking in the tech-less areas adding onto the problems of community radio. All this can be solved by workshops that could be arranged by the government for potential community radio users. They can be given lessons of being tech savvy, about how to use new media and spread awareness and also to train the community members to develop basic production and post-production skills. Policies can be eased down for social benefit too. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should consider the cause and aid the stations.

During the 5th National Community Radio Sammelan, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley cleared the myth that airway is government’s monopoly. He expressed his views about freedom of expression that the broadcaster has and also the right to information with the listeners, and emphasized on promoting Community radio. Also in the meeting, TRAI indicated that the permission for CRS should continue to be at five years.

We all have heard of the rabbit and tortoise story during our childhood. Community radio works very much on the same lines. Though there is a gulf between community radio and other medium of communication regarding the target audience, the cost to run a station, the entertainment factor, government policies and much more, still they are predicted to grow in future. But in the mean time it is important for the developers to fill in the gaps that make its future dicey. The developers should timely bring forward campaigns so that the Government of India recognizes its potential and support the cause.

Also, Community radio should adopt other mediums and bring out fusion to promote their existence. Going online can surely increase their listeners. Tie-ups with FM stations and media houses to get coverage of the cause will spread the awareness faster. They also create their websites for promotion. To bring some social development, community radio is neither an end nor an independent means to reach the marginalised audience. It needs coordination with base level initiatives and is not a sole arm but an additional one for social communication. But it should be kept in mind that the new technology is needed to support, not recast the old.

‘MODI’fication in Education

From being the neglected one in the educational race, secondary education in India is going through a transformation, somewhere for the better of the nation, other times for the party.

India is developing and improving in almost all the sectors every day. Our nation is seeing a revolution after the 2014 election, with digitalization, industrialization, demonetization and many more ‘tions’ adding onto the list. But what about Education?

Education is the key to unlock the door of growth and improvement for a nation and hence there came the Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009, wherein education became free and compulsory for all children between 6 to 14 years of age. But why did the whole compulsion stop at the age of 14?

Is the education ahead not important for them? Primary education in India is inclusive of classes 1 to 6 and Secondary education compiles of standard 7 to 12. As the government puts break after the journey of elementary education, children drop out of the educational drive. Sometimes, families indulge the kids in some labor so that they can start earning for their family while the other make them sit idle at home.

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Teacher helping a student at Hamari Kaksha, Chandigarh (Credit: Poorvi Agarwal)

According to the Unified District Information System for Education statistics, over 260 million children have enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in 2015-16 and 51.26 percent of the children enrolled from primary to the secondary schools. But none mentioned the percentage of dropouts or regular students. Absenteeism in the primary classes disturbs their base which makes it difficult for them during the secondary classes. The quality of teacher and school also adds onto this factor. Untrained and ill-equipped teachers at both primary and secondary level affect their education big time, especially in the rural schools. There is no massive gap in the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of boys and girls in class 11 and 12 as it is 55.95% and 56.41% respectively.

When it comes to flagship programs, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA), and other schemes have been majorly for the welfare of primary education. The umbrella scheme for Secondary education, the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) aims to provide services like toilets, drinking water, computer facility, laboratory, along with vocational and classrooms knowledge. Modi government’s budget for 2017-18 allocated Rs 23,500 crore against SSA and Rs 3,830 crore for RMSA, an increase of 4.5 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. Arun Jaitley pledged to create an “innovation fund” to encourage local innovation and ensure universal access, gender parity and quality improvement of secondary education. According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, India spends the least percent of its GDP on education amongst the BRICS members. In 2015-16, India spent 3% whereas Russia spent 3.8%, China – 4.2%, Brazil – 5.2% and South Africa – 6.9%.

The every family comparison with Sharma Ji ka beta peer pressurised the students who went under depression or attempted suicides. To tackle the situation, the system of examination and mark sheet was removed from CBSE till class 10 bringing in the CGPA grading system. Major changes in the syllabus and books are seen as Modi government came to power. Recently, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar made NCERT books mandatory for CBSE from the session 2017-2018 to standardise the curriculum across the country. The Rajasthan Board of secondary education will teach demonitisation to 12th from the next session.

ICSE is in a worse state as lacks specified publication or book by the council for the syllabus. When it comes to subjects like biology, the chapter ‘reproduction’ isn’t taught properly as the teachers skip many parts. This highlights the way sex education can never be a part of classrooms and blackboards. But MODIfication was seen in ICSE too. The 7th standard ICSE History book carried 8 out of 10 images of PM Modi in a single chapter. Many controversial changes came after Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister of India. A notification was issued in 2016 by the MP government to make lessons of the Gita compulsory in schools but due to strong protests, this decision was withdrawn. Also, former HRD Minister Smriti Irani replaced German with Sanskrit till class 8th in all Kendriya Vidyalaya, but this has been changed and third language is now made compulsory till class 10 in all schools.

The government policies seem to focus either on elementary education or higher education. Neglect of secondary education can have a devastating impact on the growth. To fix this broken ladder of education, serious thought should be given to secondary education and it should be made mandatory. Funds should be better allocated to revive secondary education. After the first year of Modi governance, a 9% drop in funds was seen in secondary education although it increased this year. Also, focus should be made on implementation and measuring of the schemes. Many positive changes have been witnessed under Modi governance, but if they focus more on improvising the education instead of saffronising, drastic growth can be seen in all levels of education.

Sister’s sinister plan in prison

Jayalalitha, Sasikala’s corruption cased closed, convicted

Corruption has become an inevitable part of politics and the Indian politicians reiterate this by the involvement in scams and scandals. From Suresh Kalmadi’s Commonwealth Games scam to Lalu’s fodder scam, from Mayawati’ Taj Heritage corridor case to the recently closed disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu’s Amma and Chinnamma, almost everyone hides bagful of cash and secrets. The citizen’s trust is taken for granted as politicians like these breathe on money.

Tamil Nadu’s politics came to a standstill with the demise of former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa who served the state for over 14 years. Her loyalist and companion V.K. Sasikala has been convicted for 21 year old asset misrepresentation case and sentenced to four years of imprisonment.

The Supreme Court revoked the judgment earlier taken by a High Court that was full of errors. It held V.K. Sasikala, general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagan, with charges of corruption. The case which SC settled on February 14, 2017 goes back to 1991 when Jayalalithaa came to power. She and her companion Sasikala were involved in amassing wealth and property disproportionate to her known sources of income that summed up to Rs 66.65 Crores. The bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Amitava Roy bars Sasikala from electoral politics for the next decade thus ending her ambition of becoming the next Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. The long lost verdict brought her from Poes Garden to prison. Other than Jaya and Sasikala, their c0-conspirators V.N. Sudhakaran and Elavarasi have been sent to jail after being imposed with a fine of Rs 10 crore each. AIADMK chief Sasikala is fined with Rs 100 crore.

After the 563-page verdict was announced, the Supreme Court started discussing on the association of politicians with corruption. The case has boosted questions against the corrupt politicians who are contesting elections in different parts of the country as their case files lie dusted in some legal corners. In Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, the chiefs of both Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party respectively compete not only for the seat but also for the amount of land and money they can acquire out of the government funds and public property.

With demonetisation trying to lock the black money holders, all that the citizens want is a step to catch hold of the politicians that swipe their fingers on the tax money paid for development.

Blind but the Best

The game of cricket is perhaps the ultimate test of hand-eye co-ordination. The Indian cricket team has proved it infinite times and brought glory to the country. But this time it’s not the team captained by Sachin, Dhoni or Virat that made the Indians proud, it is the Indian Cricket team for the Blind!

The second edition of the T20 Blind World Cup, hosted by India contested with great zeal and dynamism. India won the tournament after beating Pakistan by nine wickets in the finals at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Riding on an unbeaten 99 by opener Prakash Jayaramaiah, India chased down a score of 198 with a loss of just one wicket and 14 balls to spare. India versus Pakistan matches usually draw hundreds of millions of television viewers but this particular final between the blind teams of both the countries brought in great applause and appreciation to all the players.

The event was organized by the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), which is supported by the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and is affiliated to the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC). The ten-nation tournament featured 48 matches held from 28 January 2017 to 12 February 2017 at multi cities in India. The teams participating are England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan with India as the host. India won 8 of the 9 matches it played in the tournament, ironically losing a group stage match to Pakistan. Pakistani team, on the other hand, won all the matches except the finals. For the 2nd T20 World Cup for the Blind, Rahul Dravid was chosen as the Brand Ambassador.

The Indian team has emerged as the best team in the world by winning all the formats of International Championship including First T20 World Cup in December 2012, ODI World Cup in December 2014, T20 Asia Cup in January 2016 and recently the T20 World Cup.

Cricket for the Blind was introduced in Australia in the 1920s and made its opening in India in 1980. The rules of cricket are modified for the visually impaired players to play. The ball has few ball bearings inside it, producing audio for the players’ ease. Designed by National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun, the ball is currently accepted as an international standard ball. The teams guide the players through verbal signals like the word ‘play’ while the ball is delivered. The game also involves underarm bowling and the field is slightly smaller in area. Totally blind fielders are allowed to catch the ball on the bounce.

The game boosts the confidence of visually impaired players and abandons the feeling of denial and dependency from their minds. Also, it kindles social responsibility in every individual and organization. Whosoever contributed to this event enjoys a tax exemption under section 80G of Indian Income Tax Act. The tournament raised funds by selling the unique balls and t-shirts through their website which would be used to support the cause for visually impaired. The team runs on donations and awareness campaigns. They believe that with funds, they can have better equipment and thus can perform better.

India’s blind cricket team has been performing astonishingly well but hasn’t got much recognition and attention. Unfortunately, it is the only team not affiliated to its country’s national board. BCCI is yet to recognize blind cricket and this is one of the team’s major demands.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted a congratulatory message on Twitter for the triumphant team. Also, Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar applauded the team on Twitter. Another tweet by Virendra Sehwag gathered criticism as the hashtag #OtherMenInBlue was taken as an offense by a few players.

The Politics of Statues

The Statue of Liberty will soon be dwarfed by not one, but two statues that will be built in India- the Chhartrapati Shivaji and Sardar Patel statues. These sky-high statues will even overtake the tallest statue of Buddha-Laykyun Setkyar, Mynammar in the run of the world’s tallest.

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Amidst the politics of demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of a 192 metre statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the Arabian Sea, just off Mumbai’s coast at a whopping cost of Rs 3,600 crores. But even before the foundation ceremony, Shivaji Smarak, as it is to be called was surrounded by criticism.

Online petition slams the construction as a mere waste of money and resources. More than 40K petitions have been signed on Change.org and they state the issues of poverty, farmer suicides, poor drainage not looked after while the government invests the tax-money into the construction of a memorial. Also, environmentalists point out the marine life degradation that the construction will cost. Modi’s sudden currency swap two months ago has led to severe cash shortages, bank limits on withdrawals, an industrial slump and layoffs raise eyebrows on the project’s capital. Also, it comes ahead of the high-stake elections in Maharashtra in February 2017.

The Statue of Unity- the 182-metre metal statue of Sardar Patel is also in progress. As Modi government came into power in 2014, they announced the making of this statue in Gujarat and earmarked a part of the annual budget for its establishment. The people irked over the spending of Rs 2989 crores for this project. Ram Sutar, the sculptor of the two statues counter –argued on the criticism saying, “If people had worried about how much the Taj Mahal would cost, it would never have been built.”

Earlier in 2009, SP supremo Mayawati immortalized herself as she constructed her own statues along with mentor Kanshi Ram out of the state funds, across Uttar Pradesh during her tenure. Samajwadi Party kept on accusing Behenji of scams by triggering the condition of poor, weak and underprivileged in whose name many of these memorials are justified.

Not just construction, but incidents of breaking and removal of statues also add on to the wastage of money. Recently the statue of poet Ram Ganesh Gadhkari in Sambhaji Park, Pune was vandalized by the pro- Maratha Sambhaji Brigade over historical errors in his poems. Upcoming local elections in Pune activated all the parties. Bharatiya Janata Party corporators criticized the incident demanding the restoration of the garden. Congress pushed for an oil painting till the statue is restored. Pune Municipal Corporation will set up a new statue as early as possible to calm Punekars.

This making and breaking have questioned the dwindling economy after demonetization. The vote politics converting into the politics of statue has questioned the government.

#IWillGoOut Campaign faced police obstruction

Nationwide women safety movement tagged Anti-national and denied permission by Delhi Police. The obstruction shamed the event and the organizers still the news was hardly covered by any media house except The Hindu and a couple more.

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Delhi: The Delhi-Dwarka Chapter of nationwide movement ‘I Will Go Out’ faced police resistance and permission denials hours before the march was to commence on January 21, 2017. The event for women safety and freedom was marked anti-nationalist and communal on a leaflet distributed in Dwarka.

11The social media campaign that turned into national march #IWillGoO ut flagged off across 21 cities all over the country on January 21 to convey solidarity with the survivors of sexual assault in Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve. Hundreds of women came on streets in solidarity against sexual harassment and to reclaim their right to safe public spaces.

The Delhi Commissioner of Police and the organising committee indulged in a battle over event permissions. the wide Hashmi, a social activist and the leader of Dwarka protest said, “Even though we sent an application seeking permission eight days prior to the event, DCP rejected it. He raised baseless queries regarding footfall, arrangements, medical facility and stage issues. The partially constructed stage was also removed by the Police.”

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The location was later changed from Sector 6 Market, Dwarka to Maxfort School. The time set for the event from 9 pm to 12 midnight was preponed by two hours. The posters for the event were redesigned mentioning changes and released press releases. The arrangements were made for the new location and people were informed over social media and Whatsapp.

Highly communal, defamatory and provocative leaflets were inserted in Dwarka newspapers giving a call to people not to attend the program. The anonymous leaflet read the event being organised by ‘anti-national’ people. Shabanam Hashmi and the members of Dwarka Collective have written an application to the Delhi Police Commissioner seeking investigation of the police opposition and miscreants.

leafletThough obstructed, the women were successful in organising the program and coming out in large number to protest for their freedom and proving #IWillGoOut. Dwarka groups celebrated womanhood with dance, poetry, qawwali, music and standup comedy to be performed by youth, women, artists from within Dwarka and other parts of Delhi.

While Delhi faced troubles with police, the country
wide movement was a success in Mumbai Pune, Nagpur, Bhopal, Silchar and Thrissur. Both men and women raised placards emphasising women’s rights over their body, the freedom to dress the way they want and to live without any fear. They voiced slogans like “Azadi, Azadi, a NO means a NO and my clothes, my body.” The voice of the protesters was loud and clear and brought the entire nation together.

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