Video: The Autowallah’s verdict


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Ursila Ali and Sheikh Saaliq

The union of Autorickshaw drivers in Delhi, is one of the biggest of its kind in the country. An integral part of public transport system in the city, their strikes to reduce gas prices and increase fare create waves even in the parliament. Every election, various political parties try to woo this group in their favour. Their network is spread in the farthest ends of the city, providing near accurate predictions of election results.

In the recent state elections, the auto rickshaw drivers played a vital role again, by connecting with the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party. Many of them say that the new party met all their demands, less gas rates, freedom from constant police harassment and hike in the  fare. Will the Aam Aadmi Party manage to get the Autowallahs on its side again for the Lok Sabha elections of 2014?

[Originaly published in blog Video MOJO – an effort by Sem II students of Convergent Journalism, Jamia Millia Islamia.]



Podcast: Rise of women oriented cinema in India


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Sheikh Saaliq

Indian Cinema – Bollywood – has competed 100 years. Since its inception women have been an integral part of it. Movies like Alam Ara, Mother India, Bandit Queen are the examples from the past. In current times more and more women oriented movies are being made in Indian cinema and more screen space is being given to the women.

[Originaly published in blog Audio MOJO – an effort by Sem II students of Convergent Journalism, Jamia Millia Islamia.]

Flying in the air


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Sheikh Saaliq | Tahir Ahmed | Smriti Singh

“Skateboarding is a fun game. You slide and glide on wheels – it gives you wings to fly,” says Steve, who runs Freemotion Indoor Skateboarding club in Saket, Delhi. Started few years back, Steve’s Free Motion club is gaining ground among youth in Delhi. Currently more and more people across Delhi are becoming a part of this new game.

[Originaly published in blog Delhi in Slideshows – a joint effort by Sem II and Sem IV students of Convergent Journalism, Jamia Millia Islamia.]

The issue of language in India


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Sheikh Saaliq | Vatsala Singh | Uzair Rizvi

New Delhi, Feb 19: The last foreign language to hold sway in India is English, which to this day continues to play a prominent role in Indian life. English replaced Persian as the official language in 1837, though Persian and, to a lesser extent, Hindi were retained in some capacity at the lower levels of administration. English also became the language of the intellectual elite, a situation which has been replicated in many parts of the post-colonial world. Today, English is spoken by approximately three to four percent of the Indian population. Although this is a minority, it is perhaps the most elite and influential minority in India today.

“English will take more prominence than Hindi. If you see the education system in India today, it is all English.” Against this backdrop languages like Persian, Urdu and Hindi have suffered a lot besides many others.

The Cigarette Smugglers


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Uzair Rizvi / Sheikh Saaliq / Vatsala Singh

New Delhi, 17 Feb: Inside Jamia Polytechnic campus, on the other end, there is a large iron gate. It is heavily entangled with barbed wires. Children not more than 11 year old stand behind this gate. Through the small holes they sell cigarettes. From Classic, Gold Flake to Marlboro they sell everything. The area has become a smoking adda. Students come here, buy smokes and spend time here. “Security guards and college authorities are aware. They scold us at times. Give us warnings and shoo us away,” says Kabir. He is only 11-year-old and lives on the other side of the gate.

Kabir’s day starts at 9. He stands behind this gate with his other friends and sells cigarettes to the students of Jamia. He leaves at 12 when it is time for his school. His older brother was caught by police for carrying on this illegal activity inside a college premises. They took away all his stuff. He was taken to the Jamia Nagar police station and was left on a simple warning. Even after this episode he hasn’t stopped selling cigarettes.

This illegal activity involving kids as young as Kabir is still going on. The shocking part is that it happening no where but inside an educational institute and a renowned one at that.

In pictures: The refugees of MuzaffarNagar riots


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Sheikh Saaliq

MuzaffarNagar, Nov 01: In the middle of a barren field, surrounded by popular trees and sugarcane fields, stand rows upon rows of tents of every hue. But under the canopies is deep sadness — of tragedy and loss. These tents are the sole shelter of the victims of Muzaffarngar riots.

Each tent holds the story of a family torn apart by the violence that struck Muzaffarnagar — of lives lost, and comforts forsaken. The open field is now their only refuge, as their last hope — to return back to their natives villages seems too far from the sight. The affected people spend their day, sleep and eat in these tents

MuzafarNagar riots which displaced around 45,000 people, are still living in the relief camps. Out of fear of losing their lives, many of them have refused to go back to their villages.

Substance Abuse in Delhi


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Sheikh Saaliq

New Delhi, Oct 18: Gayatri Devi, 52, a resident of Badarpur, South Delhi, had noticed her son Nagesh, aged about 14, bleary eyed and drowsy, days before he died. “He often held big handkerchiefs to his nose”, Gayatri says, adding “I never knew he was inhaling death”. With this she breaks down. Her Husband, Prakash Singh, in his late fifties, helps her with a glass of water.

What Gayatri didn’t suspect was, that her son was inhaling correction fluid, which is commonly found in stationery shops. “He got addicted to these drugs in his school” says Nagesh’s father, Prakash who himself is a teacher in a Government run school in South Delhi.

The boys would sit at the back, bow down from time to time, hold the hankie to their noses and take a deep breath.  At first I didn’t knew what they were doing but when I, along with other teachers caught them, we came to know about all this

Substances such as glue, paints, polish and even pain-relieving ointments are being used as secondary drugs by many young boys and girls in Delhi. Substance or drug abuse also has been quite prevalent in government and civic agency-run schools. These addictive substances also include whitener and nail polish remover, which can be found at any normal stationary shop outside or nearer to any school in Delhi.

Substance abuse among children and adolescents is higher than the actual drug abuse. Children like Nagesh, in their early teens have already paid heavy price by losing their life to this rampant abuse in Delhi.

Deepak Mehta, 32, is a teacher in a Government run school in Old Delhi. He has been teaching there from last three years and has caught many students using whiteners and pain relievers as drugs. “The boys would sit at the back, bow down from time to time, hold the hankie to their noses and take a deep breath.  At first I didn’t know what they were doing but when I, along with other teachers caught them, we came to know about all this”, Deepak says.

The government of Delhi has also recently drawn up a list of 250 schools, out of which more than 140 are run by municipal agencies – in areas such as Badarpur, Jahangirpuri, Old Delhi, Seelampur, Mahipalpur, Rohini, Civil Lines and Sultanpuri.

The Department of Women and Child Welfare and Directorate of Education, Delhi, till 2012 have identified 98 government schools which are categorized as vulnerable. Most of these schools were found in South Delhi and East Delhi. “The instances of substance abuse located in these schools facilitate abuse at a very high rate”, states an official survey done by these two state run departments.

Counselors and psychiatric consultants in the capital agree that substance abuse is increasingly picking up as a trend among school goers. Dr. Suresh Tripathi, a psychiatrist at AIIMS Delhi, attributes the rampant use of these substances as drugs to the easy availability of these substances, especially the licit ones. He says that it has been the most common reason for continuation, followed by relief from stress, and acceptability among friends. “Adolescents are in a transitional phase and confusion. They can sometimes make themselves susceptible to taking up unfavorable habits and the easy availability of these products makes it easier for them”. He says that substance use can at times also lead to death apart from other health hazards. “Every day, we get 4-5 cases, which are being treated because of the substance abuse and all of these patients are mostly under 15. Majority of them are school goers”, Dr. Tripathi adds.

A survey by ‘CHILDLINE India Foundation’ – a NGO, reveals that 63.6 % of patients coming in for treatment to get rid of drugs were introduced to drugs at a young age below 15 years and most of these patients started to use whitener and nail polish remover as drugs. According to another report 13.1% of the people involved in drug and substance abuse in India, are below 20 years.

Adolescents are in a transitional phase and confusion. They can sometimes make themselves susceptible to taking up unfavorable habits and the easy availability of these products makes it easier for them

Sanjeev Sabharwal is a lawyer. In 2011 he filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court in 2011 on substance abuse issue. Sanjeev says that most of the vulnerable schools identified are run by municipal agencies. “On my personal level, I carried out a research in which I came to know that most of these vulnerable schools present in Delhi are run by civic agencies. Honorable court also accepted my research work but hasn’t done anything on it yet.” Sanjeev says.

“We are taking preventive steps to fight against substance abuse in school going children. We are organizing counselings for children and encourage them to shun these drugs.” says Amit Singla, director of education, Delhi.

On contrary, Mahinder Nagpal, leader of the house, North Delhi Municipal Corporation rubbishes these claims. He says that students in MCD are under proper care and protection and all these allegations are baseless. “MCD schools provide utmost protection to the students. Yes there might be some incidents of substance abuse in our schools but not in every. Students in MCD can’t afford such things”, Nagpal says.

According to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 of Indian constitution, children affected by substance abuse are considered as children in need of care and protection. “But much said on paper, nothing has been done till” says Sanjeev.

Sanjeev asserts that educational institutions must ensure strict dealing with this issue and help in ending this menace among school children.

Suggestive Reading:
Children affected by Substance Abuse

The Music Magic


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Sheikh Saaliq

New Delhi, Sept27: Amidst the classical Bollywood tunes, the Tabla beats and Guitar strumming, Razia, 9, is sitting in the corner of the Khushi Home with a notebook in her hand. She is not studying. Rather, she is writing a song.

At Khushi Home, run by an NGO ‘Music Basti’, there are many such boys and girls like Razia who are busy in doing what they like. Some play Guitar and some tabla. Many of them also write their own songs. From the last 5 years, Music Basti has given opportunity to more than thousand children to let the world know about who they are. This is all done with Music.

Set up in 2008, “Music Basti” – a community-centered project- is working with street children, run-aways, orphans and other at-risk children of Delhi. Led and managed by musicians and volunteers, these children are provided the opportunity to pursue arts, especially music and media for learning and education, helping them to develop and enhance their life skills, especially self-confidence, communication, creativity and cooperation, through group-music learning projects.

The project works together with dozens of other organizations and has already worked with more than a thousand volunteer teachers and musicians. Its reach has surpassed 1000 girls and boys in places such as Kushi Home.

Students at Khushi Home learning to play music. Photo courtesy: Music Basti archives.   gry przygodowe  jogos infantis  juegos de accion  jeux d avion  gry cda  giochi  jeux de guerre  posicionamiento marketing  jogos de carro  scaricare musica gratis  alta en buscadores  jogos de cavalo  posicionamiento eficaz  especialista seo  jogos para celular java  jogos  jeux  descargar juegos wii  gry dla dziewczyn  jogos do sonic  barbie games  giochi di spongebob  play online games  gry onlineMu  gry strategiczne  jogo de carros  juegos de futbol gratis  free games online  giochi gratis per ragazze  darmowe gryM  jeux online  giochi di vestire  gioci  jogos de menino  free online games for girls  gry auta  jogos de moda</a  <a href=http://zaza-juegos-gr  <a href=http://zaza-jeux-gratui  juegos de aventuras  play games  cool math games  giochi di ragazze  jogos 1000  juegos de motocross</a  giochi gratis online  gry online  jogos xbox 360  online free games

Students at Khushi Home learning to play music. Photo courtesy: Music Basti archives.

“Music Basti is a call for change. I started Music Basti with an aim to use music in personal development and community building. It helps in making children confident and creative,” says Faith Gonsalves, founder of Music Basti.“This idea has simple means to work towards its end: music,” Faith adds.

“I am very happy with the change in my son. Earlier he only used to roam round after his school but now, I can hear him singing at home,” Laxmi Prasad says smiling.

The network of Music Basti includes both established musicians as well as people who volunteer to teach children music.

A singer and music-lover herself, Faith says that music can help children immensely, not only to enjoy life and forget their problems, but also to develop communication skills and to boost their confidence. To teach music and music appreciation to these underprivileged children, she decided to start up the project Music Basti in 2008 when she was a college student at Delhi University.

“We do not use music to pass on knowledge. We want to teach these children music; to give them something that they have never experienced before. Music therapy helps them to know the real meaning of their lives,” says Adil Khan, who is a volunteer for Music Basti.

For children like Mukesh, 11, Music Basti is nothing less than a personal development therapy. “I have been coming here from  past one year and I feel very comfortable. Teachers have taught me to sing and compose music on  Tabla. Earlier I was very shy and could not face people but now I am very comfortable in communicating with people around me,” Mukesh says.

Mukesh’s father, Laxmi Prasad, who is a Paan-waala in Lajpat Nagar says that Music Basti has given a space to his son where he can convey his inner feelings with the help of music. “I am very happy with the change in my son. Earlier he only used to roam round after his school but now I can hear him singing at home” Laxmi Prasad says smiling.

Avinash, a violinist and a member of Musoc, who helped Music Basti conduct some couple of workshops in 2010, is overwhelmed with the response this project is getting every passing day. “Children of Music Basti grasp things quickly and are now aware of what Music can get them. In 2010, these children came up with an album ‘Dhanak Dhin: Monsoon with Music Basti’ which received very positive response.”

“It was during these regular visits that Khan decided to compose a new song instead of teaching old songs.”We recorded the song and it was the highlight of our show at Hard Rock Cafà in the year 2009″ says Adil.

Music Basti till now has organized several workshops in singing and playing instruments on weekly basis. The occasional music performance is also launched. The children have interacted with various artistes and bands like Kailash Kher, Vishal Dadlani, Dr Madan Gopal Singh and Group, Delhi artistes and bands like Advaita, Aditya Balani Group, Five8 and international artistes like Suchet Malhotra, The Xylopholks, and the Yale University Gospel choir.

“I had never played a guitar before, it was my first time. I have a lot f fun here. We play different instruments here and then record our own songs. This is what I always wanted to do.” says Aliya, 14, a Music Basti student.

Madhu Karma, a psychologist says that these type of workshops and projects are very important for these children for their mental and social growth. “It is an incredible initiative done with enjoyable and rewarding process. These workshops have a great impact on the mentality of the children who have been deprived of the basic needs. In fact, these workshops also help them to know their talent. It helps them to communicate with the outside world with the help of music.”

“I had never played a guitar before, it was my first time. I have a lot of fun here. We play different instruments here and then record our own songs. This is what I always wanted to do,” says Aliya, 14, a Music Basti student.

Classroom of hope


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Sheikh Saaliq

New Delhi, Sept 05: One fine day in 2008, Rajesh Kumar, a shopkeeper in profession spotted few children playing in the dirt as he walked to the train station. Next day he went to their parents and asked them why they weren’t in school. They complained the school was too far and they have no resources to make their children study.

Next morning, he went to the Yamuna metro station bridge. He cleaned the area and swept. Rajesh went again to the parents of the kids he had seen last day and took them along . With only five children with him he started to teach them. All this was done under a ‘Make-shift-school’ under a metro station.

After three years of it’s existence , more than 500 kids have studied in this school.

Serving the community online


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Asad, updating his website. Photo by: Sheikh Saaliq

ON WORK – Asad, founder of Okhla Times, updating his website. Photo by: Sheikh Saaliq

Sheikh Saaliq

New Delhi, Aug 16: It is 3 in the afternoon. Just an hour ago, Asad has received pictures of Independence Day celebrations from his photographers across Delhi. Within minutes, the pictures are on the website of the news portal he edits.

“I don’t have a particular routine to update news on my website. The website is always updated on a fly” says Asad, founder and Editor of Okhla Times – an online web news portal.

Asad who lives in Okhla did his M.A in Journalism from City University, London and worked as reporter for many community newspapers. After spending few years in London, Asad came back to his home in India and worked here for Poineer, Hindustan Times and Mid Day. But his appetite for free and independent source of news forced him to start his own venture of Okhla Times.  “I was very much motivated with the community newspapers in London which worked independently, covering issues which mainstream media mostly skipped. So I started Okhla Times in the year 2010 as a hyper local website which to me is the voice of the Okhla residents now” Asad says.

Not many people come up with up an initiative of ‘Community portal’ highlighting issues of an area as big as Okhla. But Okhla Times is one such example of an issue led community Journalism.

Okhla Times is the first local and online news source for some one million residents of Okhla, including teachers, students and alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia. As a rich and entertaining source of information about Okhla, a district in South-East Delhi with a mixed population, the portal serves net-savvy residents with daily dose of local news.

Asad, believes [that] mainstream media is being hijacked by corporate sector for their own vested interests and to counter that, alternate media like online news portals and community newspapers should come into existence. “Most of the basic issues like sewage problem, population explosion, urbanization, crime and women safety, which should be covered by mainstream media, are being neglected. So a platform for debate, discussion and awareness is needed” he says.

“People are getting to know the real power of online independent media and it is good to see many such portals being launched which will serve the society in much better ways”

Asad says [that] in this age of post modernization online media is the only form of media which will survive and as per the current trend most of the people including youth prefer to read news on their phones and laptops, which is only possible through online media.

For Asad, coming up with the idea of Okhla Times and setting up its website was never easy.  With no financial support and resources Asad started his venture into the newly formed field of online Journalism. “Coming up with an online news portal is easy nowadays but to sustain with quality and regular updates is the real work.” Asad says.

According to Asad, Okhla Times mostly covers stories which are investigative and analytical. “I believe in stories which have an impact” he says.

Okhla Times, which from past few years has become an authentic source of

Jamia Watch. Photo by: Sheikh Saaliq

Jamia Watch. Photo by: Sheikh Saaliq

information for the people of Okhla and its surrounding – also comprises of Jamia Millia Islamia at large. Recently, Asad came up with a premium publication, ‘Jamia Watch’ – a book which has documented the lives of 60 Jamia Alumni.

Getting influenced by Okhla Times, many new online web portals are surfacing in and around Okhla, like Okhla Post, Jamia Post and Jamia Gazette. “People are getting to know the real power of online independent media and it is good to see many such portals being launched which will serve the society in much better ways” says Asad.

In addition to giving a voice to neglected stories of Okhla, websites like Okhla Times have provided an opportunity to many individuals, and given them the chance to show their skills.

Many of these website owners say they may be suffering on the financial grounds but are not ready to compromise in their content – which according to them is proving to be a messiah for the deprived class of society.