New Delhi: At a time
when journalism is courting sensationalism and sleaze, an
unassuming four-page tabloid is doing its bit by writing about the
trials and tribulations of Delhi's child labourers. And the
newspaper staff is particularly qualified to write about the
subject - they form a part of this nameless, faceless multitude.
Called Balaknama, this Hindi quarterly is written and edited by
homeless children from Badhte Kadam, a group of street and working
children. First published in July 2003, this tabloid has come a
long way with the help of Chetna, a voluntary organisation working
for street kids.
"The plight of street and working children was never shown on TV
channels and in newspapers. We decided to launch our tabloid to
make these children aware of their rights and raise their issues.
After a lot of brainstorming, we came up with the name Balaknama
for our tabloid," 18-year-old Vijay, who is national secretary of
Badhte Kadam, told IANS..
Vijay, who worked in a CD case manufacturing factory in Delhi, has
been involved with the tabloid since 2006.
The paper publishes stories about the struggles and achievements
of street kids in the capital. There are around 500,000 child
labourers in the capital, many of whom live on the streets, say
Vijay and five of his friends from Badhte Kadam don a variety of
roles to keep the paper running - from writing stories to speaking
to their counterparts all over Delhi about their life stories.
"This is our independent newspaper. We are the ones who decide the
content of each edition. Our members from across Delhi meet at one
place and discuss the topics to be published in the edition," said
Shanno, 17, who works as a maid in Seemapuri.
Formed in 2002 in Delhi with 35 children, Badhte Kadam now has
10,000 members also spread across Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh
"Whether it is police or the common man, everyone looks at us with
disgust. We are mistreated by everyone in society. To create our
own identity, we formed this group and a year later, we launched
Balaknama to make our voices heard in society," says Vijay.
The paper has a circulation of around 3,500, mainly among NGOs in
Delhi, and is priced at Re.1
"This tabloid is absolutely free for common people. We charge NGOs
who are its subscribers. The response is not that bad," said
Sanjay Gupta, director of Chetna.
"We are also thinking of getting it registered so that we can get
subsidy and reach out to a large number of people and highlight
the issue of exploitation and grave conditions in which these
children live," Gupta told IANS.
(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)