New Delhi: Mexico would soon be introduced to ‘Gandhigiri’ through the first Mexican edition of a newspaper being run by children. Student reporters in Mexico are working to bring out the edition called “The Yamuna,” on behalf of the New Delhi based Gandhi Smriti for its Gandhi Media Literacy Programme.
The programme aims at promoting a global culture of non-violence as well as instilling an active and responsible citizenship among students. “We never imagined the paper would reach Mexico. It is the strong will and hard work of the children that has taken ‘The Yamuna’ to Mexico,” says Vedabhyas Kundu, programme coordinator of the newspaper and a member of Gandhi Smriti.
The quarterly paper is distributed among schools, government offices and media houses in India and abroad. Over the years children in Nepal and Mexico have also started contributing to the paper on issues ranging from biodiversity, food security, child rights, education and health. The Gandhi Media Literacy Programme for children was initiated by Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, the national memorial of Mahatma Gandhi in 2003 as part of the centenary year of Indian Opinion, the journal that Mahatma Gandhi started in South Africa in 1903.
The Mexican organisation OraWorldMandala in partnership with Gujarat Vidyapeeth, the university founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920, hit upon the idea of a Mexican edition for ‘The Yamuna’, and a group of five journalists from the Latin American country began working to implement the idea.”I was fascinated by the relatively unknown fact of Gandhi the journalist, as Gandhi the peacemaker always eclipsed Gandhi the scribe.
“I thought it was a good idea when Sonia Deotto, director of OWM, suggested getting Mexican children to bring out a separate newspaper instead of just collaborating with Indian children on articles for each edition of the Indian Yamuna,” says Hayde Murakami Salinas, programme coordinator for “The Yamuna Mexico.”With a publication of 1500-2000 copies every four months, the newspaper aims at empowering students in parts of India and in Nepal besides Bhutan.
“We do not concentrate on the marketing aspect of it. Our main aim is to develop the capacities of children…That we bring students together is a big achievement” says Vedabhyas Kundu. Gandhi Smriti members select children from different schools to be part of the publication’s team.
Currently 30 students in Delhi are engaged in the production process. “These students are trying to understand the importance of a responsible media and its service to their communities, besides its potential as a powerful tool to reach social change and peace,” says Salinas.
Leading the editorial team of the Indian edition, 17-year-old, Rijuta Lamba says,” I’m really thankful for the opportunity I have got. As a student your sole motive is to study, and you keep on waiting for inspiration to do something like this. I’m glad I managed to take the first step towards doing something to bring a change.” Rijuta, who is preparing for B Tech and Bio-medical entrance examinations says, “I write because I’m passionate about writing”, though she does not see herself pursuing journalism as a profession. She has interviewed many a big-wigs for the newspaper, including personalities such as Rajat Sharma of India TV, Prof Sonia Levingston of the London School of Economics, P Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu.
Seventeen-year-old reporter Bipra Biswambhara, a class XII student and one of the five climate ambassadors chosen by UNICEF from India to be sent to Copenhagen Summit last year, says, “Interacting with other students and delegates was an eye-opening experience. We are so busy in the rat-race that we forget about our responsibilities as a citizen.”
Biswambhara’s articles raise awareness about climate issues.