Tuesday, December 28, 2010

UTTAR PRADESH MEDIA: The real reporters

IIPM Prof Rajita Chaudhuri: The New Age Woman

UNICEF trains children of Lalitpur to change the world

Far from newspaper offices in Lucknow, a group of children in two of the six blocks of Lalitpur is writing of issues as they see them. They belong to one of Uttar Pradesh's most backward districts where the under five mortality rate stands at 159, only 55 per cent households have access to clean drinking water, just 23.3 per cent children receive full immunization and barely 17.2 per cent of the households have access to toilets.

These are the child reporters (CRs) who have been active since 2006 in a UNICEF supported programme. It aims to use children as fact finders based on the premise that they would be more knowledgeable about local issues and as first generation literates would be looked upon with respect by both their families and villagers. And also, they can be brutally honest.

At village Jamalpur, Uma Devi Bhargava, a class six student for instance is quick to refute the village pradhan's (also called Uma Devi) contention that she undertook surprise checks of the mid-day meal. Bhargava says: 'She is lying. We are forced to eat undercooked rice which has midges and weevils rolling out. For the last one month there has been no food, but our Pradhanji is not bothered. And why have a man who does not know how to cook in the school.'

Fifty-six children of the Talbahet and Birdha blocks (32 girls, 24 boys) aged between 8 and 14, sketch, write reports and poems that are then collated into a news booklet called Balvani (voice of the children). Though the selection process of CRs is by force narrowed down as school teachers are asked to identify bright and articulate children, the writings have begun to have an impact. Thus when 12-year-old Anup Singh's sketch of a sleeping teacher in a class full of children (apparently born from his experience at his primary school in village Sunaora) published in the inaugural issue of Balvani (May-July 2006) reached the district officials, the teacher was immediately suspended.

At village Jamalpur, Madhu Raja, a student of class seven is working on a report on how school principals ask for money during enrollment. For Sonam Vishwakarma of the same village, each day is a new learning experience. 'Only yesterday I came to know that education till class 12 is free. I can now grow up to be anything. I have to pass this message to all the children in my village', she says. It was on Vishwakarma's insistence that two children from a Sahariya (tribal) hamlet approached the village headman to insist that the well in their hamlet be cleaned. 'The well was cleaned within three days and the children couldn't thank me enough', she beams.

In November 2009, at the first national convention of CRs in New Delhi, attended by 70 CRs from 14 states, seasoned media persons who came to interact with them, were stumped. Senior Hindi journalist Ram Sharan Joshi complimented them on being 'the real reporters, authentic, genuine and grass roots.'

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

For More IIPM Info, Visit below mentioned IIPM articles.
IIPM BBA MBA Institute: Student Notice Board
Run after passion and not money, says Arindam Chaudhuri
IIPM Lucknow – News article in Economic Times and Times of India

Prof Rajita Chaudhuri follow some off-beat trends like organizing make up sessions
IIPM Prof Rajita Chaudhuri's Snaps
IIPM Prof Arindam Chaudhuri on Our Parliament and Parliamentarians' Work

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