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From Kishore Kumar To Life Advice, This Prison Radio Channel By Inmates Is Melting Many Boundaries

Image Credits: The Times of India

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In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, silent rebel Andy Dufrense upset the whos who of prison authorities by playing mesmerising Mozart on the jail loudspeakers, exclusively meant for official announcements for the inmates. He might have faced the harshest penalty thereafter, but had the place been Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai, the scenario might have turned out different. As part of their prisoner rehabilitation programme, Taloja Central Prison operates an in-house radio station – of the inmates, by the inmates and for the inmates. TLCP, expanded as Taloja Central Prison Radio, is the first such instance in the history of the nation, reports The Times of India.

How the radio show happened

Presently, the radio hosts a one hour show every day at noon – from 12 to 1 PM, featuring classic Bollywood musical numbers, interspersed with a beautiful script. The team of three in charge of the station comprises a technician, a scriptwriter and radio jockey Sadiq, who is serving his sentence for an illegal arms case.

Jail Superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar reveals that the idea of a prison radio station had been on their minds for quite a while. They drew inspiration from popular actor Sanjay Dutt’s tryst as an RJ in Pune’s Yerawada Jail a few years ago, when he was imprisoned in a case related to the Mumbai serial blasts of 1993.

For Taloja prison, lack of technical accessibility was the main roadblock, until NGO Prison Ministry of India provided them with a laptop, sound mixer and a microphone. Sound engineer Rajesh Anand from the NGO also joined the TLCP team to look after the technical requirements.

“Music reaches the soul and acts as a stress buster for prisoners,” Kurlekar reiterates the need for prisoners to enjoy the creative side of life.

From love songs to Shayari

The show began from January 15 this year. Every day, a particular theme is selected in advance for the daily show. Be it love, happiness, the meaning of life – the team curates a perfect script and chooses songs accordingly from an extensive database of 70,000 old Hindi movie songs. The content for the day is filtered through the prison authorities before going live. The small room from where the radio operates used to be a former watch post. Now, instead of vigilant eyes of stern officials, soulful music emanates from there. Even the promotion of the radio show is done entirely by the involved inmates. Pillai, an inmate with a flair for art, designs the posters, banners and logo for the show.

At the stroke of the noon, Kishore Kumar or Mohammed Rafi’s magical voice enthrals the prison premises only to be supplemented by the talented scriptwriter’s poetic words. The 3,152 present male inmates of the prison are absolutely delighted with the show. Needless to say, 12 to 1 PM has become their favourite hour of the day.

The ‘Aap Ki Farmaish’ segment of the show which entertains song requests from the listeners always finds a huge audience, as everyone eagerly waits to hear their name and their requested song. A prison officer also informed that there have been requests for ‘Shayaris’ as well.

Efforts For Good take

Music can melt boundaries – so goes the popular saying. At Taloja Central Prison, music is melting the iron bars of solitude and guilty conscience and transforming souls that regret erring once. Efforts For Good applauds the initiative by the prison authorities and wishes more prisons throughout the country follow suit.

Also Read: K.R. Raja, Who Saved 200+ Prisoners’ Children, Now Fights To Stop Deduction Of Prisoners’ Wages

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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