Sonali Jain, a fourth-year law student from Chennai, whose Instagram video on the Thoothukudi custodial deaths case went viral on Instagram, talks about her mission to try and address important present-day issues and ‘flattening the misinformation curve’ with facts. Edited Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Anupama. A from News Aur Chai Media follows.
“All information on social media, no matter how well-intended, is sometimes misinformation,” said Sonali Jain, while talking about the video she had posted on the Jayaraj and Bennick’s case that had taken social media by storm a few weeks back. “I saw a lot of posts that said that suspension of the policemen was the only punishment given to them. The court had already taken cognizance of the case, and the investigation had already started. The suspension was just a disciplinary action until the FIR was filed. Half the people on social media didn’t know that this was the case.”
The video was widely circulated on Instagram and now has over 6,50,000 views and 500 comments.
When asked about her reaction to the response, she said, “I didn’t realize when I made it that it would go viral. When it did, I understood that people do want information. So, I decided that this is the best way for someone like me, who has access to good education and can take so much from the community, to give back and share the information and privilege I have.”
The fourth-year law student from School of Excellence in Law, Chennai had posted the video on June 27, after reading about the case in newspapers and seeing several social media posts on the issue.
“I came across the hashtag #wedemandjustice in several posts,” She continued. “The court has already taken up the case. What we’re asking for has already been given. We don’t want the government to start considering the protests and emails as spam. Instead, we should be trying to make more tangible demands like the CCTV camera footage or the police report.”
Sonali then discussed the power of social media and the kind of impact it can have, by giving the example of the Jallikattu Protests that happened across Tamil Nadu in 2017, against the ban on the traditional sport.
“The impact of social media was so huge in the Jallikattu protests that it led to a policy change,” said Sonali. “When social media has such a huge bearing, spreading credible information is crucial. That is the reason I made the video.”
Sonali’s initiative focuses on trying to curb the spread of misinformation and fake news prevalent on all social media platforms. However, are such initiatives enough? What about legal enforcement or actions from the government?
When posed with the question, Sonali answered, “It’s not possible to regulate every post on social media. You can’t do it because it’s borderline censorship. What people are allowed to say online, is governed by the Information Technology Act (IT Act, 2000) in India. There are other provisions as well, such as defamation, which limit what you can post.”
While the IT Act does regulate what people can or cannot post on social media, the young law student agreed that it was outdated and needed to be updated with current developments.
“Over the years, there has been a lot of development that has not been accounted for in the act. It is a developing field of law, and I feel like it requires much change.”
Sonali recently released her second video on the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) draft, another issue that has been trending on social media, with a title similar to the last one, which reads ‘Flattening the Misinformation Curve’. She also mentioned in the video that she would be posting a video that consists of a more detailed discussion about the draft and its repercussions with two experts in the field.
“It’s a discussion on a Zoom call, so I’m in the process of editing it. I might post it on YouTube this time because it is quite lengthy.”
When asked if she was planning to create a regular IGTV series of such videos, the millennial affirmed the possibility and indicated that there is more to come.
“That’s the plan.” She said, confirming a regular IGTV series. “Maybe a video a week. I’m also planning to meet with experts from various industries and discuss the legal rights pertaining to them- Like maybe people from the fashion industry or media industry and create a sort of ‘Know Your Rights’ Series.”
Her next video on the recent amendments to the Disability Act is in the works.
“I’m planning on making a video about the amendments in The Disability Act as well.” She said, talking about her next post. “I feel like, during the pandemic, when people are more worried about their safety, monumental changes should not be made by the government. It is our constitutional right to be a part of the public process, a part of the discussions that affect us.”
To take a look at Sonali’s latest IGTV video on the EIA draft and to keep a lookout for the posts yet to come, check out her Instagram page here.
The Sound Space: Healing With Music Therapy
“Bringing music into the lives of every human being – from child to adult has always been a fundamental objective for us at ‘The Sound Space.’ We genuinely believe that music is a catalyst in making life wholesome and complete. The Sound Space is our labour of love, our way to make whatever change we can – doing what we know best – music,“ says Kamakshi Khurana, Co-founder of the organization.
In conversation with Falguni Chaudhary for News Aur Chai, the sister duo – Kamakshi and Vishala Khurana share the story behind their musical venture.
Having grown up in a musical family, they have always been deeply influenced by the power of music in one’s life and have always wanted to make it available to as many people as possible. Coming from a psychology background, the founders were able to understand the potential of music as a psychotherapeutic tool or in providing relief to psychosomatic symptoms in patients.
So, what is music therapy? It is a process in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words.
“As we gradually paved our careers in music by teaching Indian music in a deconstructed form to children and adults, it became apparent that the benefits of the centuries-old Indian music needed to be made more amenable and accessible to people in a fun, contemporary way. This experience led to creating specialized sessions for children and adults from all walks of life with varying objectives – focusing energy, de-stressing, healing, recovering, post-trauma rehabilitation, and even simply learning music, achieving inner balance, and so on. This went on to become the inspiration behind The Sound Space,” says Vishala.
She further adds, “Our approach pulls on various aspects of Sound and Music Therapy – our curriculum is inspired by the Raga-Chikitsa which is based around the idea that every raga has an effect on the body and mind. We also use the study of the chakras or energy centres and their specific bija mantras or seed sounds. We also believe strongly in the healing powers of the human voice.”
The organization has been working with children from underprivileged backgrounds for more than five years. The Founders often collaborate with other organizations in the education niche to build a stronger community; St. Jude Childcare Centre, Akanksha Foundation, Jai Vakeel Foundation, Seva Sadan Society, Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Homes to name a few.
For almost a decade, The Sound Space has worked with approximately 10,000 students, teachers, and care-givers from various schools, care- centres, and NGOs across India.
The organization has a profit-making corporate wing wherein they collaborate with a gamut of schools, institutions, and corporations to train employees or engage in therapy sessions. This forms the basis of the pro-bono work done with the underserved community.
A personalized curriculum is designed for all participants based on the outcome they want to achieve post the workshops. These workshops can be both online or offline, Kamakshi shares a few during our conversation, “Kahaniyaan: a story-telling and music workshop, On A Lighter Note: A music where we delved into raga based film songs, and a parent-toddler workshop for some bonding time. We are currently working along with our students on a fundraiser – ‘Bulandiyan’ to help rain funds for our projects in the various NGOs.”
When talking about future plans, the Sister-duo share their kaleidoscopic vision, saying “The ultimate aim of The Sound Space‘s endeavours is that every individual in this country has access to music as part of their lives in a meaningful and structured way. This means getting into the veins of the education system – government and non-government organizations. Bulandiyaan is a starting point – a window into the work that we have already been doing. It is our aspiration that it will open up the possibilities of larger numbers and a wider reach.”
Plogman of India launches Pledge Campaign: “Plastic Upvaas”
The pandemic has impacted lives in ways that we are yet to decipher. With losing lives and crashing Economies, the single-use surgical masks and gloves used are causing more harm than good.
While on one hand, we appreciate the positive impact on the environment, with nature reviving itself as humans stay locked in. On the other hand, we are creating a massive mess of plastic masks by using them and discarding them in millions on an everyday basis.
These disposable gloves and masks dig a hole in your pocket, with the cost of being continuously replaced. In addition to that, they also impact life as they end up being part of landfills or being dumped into the ocean along with other single-use plastic products.
Looking onto this dreadful journey of the single-use surgical masks and gloves, Plogman of India – Ripu Daman Bevli, has launched a pledge titled – #PlasticUpvaas. (https://www.change.org/PlasticUpvaas)
Ripu Daman Bevli, began his plastic upvaas with shunning single-use plastic from his life altogether, in addition to that, he organized multiple cleanup campaigns. “When you make a man pick up someone else’s litter, he will think twice before littering again,” He says. He has also organized a cleanup campaign across 50 cities in the country in 50 days.
He has now taken another step in pursuit of his upvaas by filing a petition in change.org to bring the change during this pandemic maintaining all the norms terms and conditions of the pandemic & it’s associated lockdown.
“Single-use has taken over our lives and ruined the planet. There is no place where it can be disposed of properly and ends up in landfills or the water bodies and oceans. Seeping into the groundwater from landfills, or destroying the marine ecosystem, it enters the food chain and comes back to impact our health. The need to fight is extremely urgent! And it’s not just single-use plastic, but single-use anything which creates waste is harmful for us and the environment. But since it’s omnipresent, the question arises, how can we overcome this problem?” reads the petition.
“#PlasticUpvaas is a people’s movement to start with shunning just one single-use item from our lives. It could be single-use plastic bottles, polythene bags, straws, tissue papers, or anything similar. In today’s world, I am saying shun surgical masks and switch to reusable cloth masks,” Says Bevli.
By 2050, there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fishes. Also, by 2050, the manufacturing of plastic will add up to 15% of all greenhouse gases. These were the statistics in a Pre-Corona World. The post-Corona world has seen a considerable spurt in plastic and single-use consumption.
The problems are too many, but should we continue to blame the authorities and not do something on our end? No matter how small it is, every drop of make the mighty ocean. #PlasticUpvaas is going to be your contribution to Mother Earth and a Litter Free world. Imagine if 7.5 billion (1.35 billion people in India) people take this up!
So, what’s your #PlasticUpvaas?”
It is difficult to stop using plastic all at once, but, consider the upvaas or fasting we all do regularly – we just fast and make ourselves so rigid with devotion or something else that little things like food don’t break our determination.
The plastic upvaas is similar to that; all you need is a strong determination. Start this will power building by shunning the plastic masks and using the cloth mask, which is washable and reusable.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed up using Gamcha (basic cotton towel) during his virtual presence during the pandemic. We all should follow the example set by him because this time, it is not about supporting a party; it is about the environment and nature.
PlasticUpvaas is not asking you to stop living or enjoying life; it asks you to increase the use of degradable materials and avoid using plastics as much as possible. If you look around yourselves, there are hundreds of things you are using that are made of plastic; think what a significant change you will bring by shunning at least 50% of them.
Take a moment to introspect the implication of shunning plastic in your life on the environment. Little steps matter. Sign the petition and take up #plasticupvaas
You can sign the petition here https://www.change.org/PlasticUpvaas and can tag us at Instagram (@newsaurchai – https://instagram.com/newsaurchai) and Ripu Daman Bevli (@Ripudamanbevli –https://instagram.com/plogmanofindia) via telling what plastic upvaas you have taken after signing the petition.
“A Boy Who Grew So Fast Only To Realise He Is Still A Boy” – Ripu Daman Bevli
Pollution, a term that is like omnipresent in our daily life, wherever we turn there is pollution–air, water, soil and whatnot. However, what do we actually do to solve this problem? In recent years, we have seen many environmentalists–both known as well as the unknown. When Greta Thunberg said “How Dare you” world cheered for her and she covered the front-page for several days. Even the Indian newspapers and portals did not stand back in this rat race, but we forgot our own environmentalists who have been doing brilliant work in silence.
Some of the Indian environmentalists are Saalumarada Thimmakka, Sunderlal Bahuguna, Prabha Devi Jadav Payeng and many more. The list seems endless, and to this list of people, we have a very young plogger who ran into the hearts of millennials recently. You guessed it right, Ripu Daman Bevli–the man who introduced plogging in India.
News Aur Chai got an excellent opportunity to interact with the inspiring person and today, let’s have a look at the story of this inspirational plogger.
From a boy born and brought up in Delhi till his late teens to a man who has been all around Indian for almost 14 years, he has proved himself to be a true Indian citizen. An apt definition in his own words–”A boy who grew so fast only to realise he is still a boy”. The painful experiences of his childhood that have been engraved deep in his memory have made him a stronger person.
His hobbies are as enjoyable as the person himself. His simple funda in life is to try everything. Sounds simple know? Yet something we all fail to do.
Ripu shared an interesting stance from his life. He was the topper of his school and board but got expelled during his second year of college. However, later, he became the ‘Head of Students Council” in the same college.
Initially, he started with his plogging with his running group in Delhi. Later he moved to other parts of India like Bangalore, Bombay, Pune, Kolkata and other places.
During the early days of his mission, he didn’t knew about this ‘cool’ term plogging. It was later in 2017 during his journey to the mission of “Clean up other people’s litter“, he got to know. ”Erik Ahlstrom coined this term,” Ripu said.
His genuine love for country and environment, kept him going in this journey. For him, plogging was just a progression from mere clean up to run and clean up.
It was just his passion and dream for a litter-free nation that made him plogging for 7 to 15 hours, without taking any break days and rest. He did not believe in preaching; instead, he believed in setting examples.
”People should question themselves and not blame others for dirty surrounding,” he said.
He further said that all those people who say its just plogging, they should try it once. It will make them understand the sheer fact; it is beyond that. It requires a lot of stamina, will power and an extreme amount of mental health to keep one going.
Despite not having proper sleep and health issues, he still manages to give time to people/organisations who approach him.
Ripu’s story for the past 14 years consists of plogging and inspiring people.
Being a marathon runner, he needed to maintain his physic and what better than early morning exercise through the capital city of India. Every day he would encounter litters all over, and people were cribbing about it. He started organising awareness events all over India, but then he wanted this to be taken to the next level and do something unprecedented in the world. A simple yet powerful message of ‘keep your surrounding litter-free‘ became his mission. So for a broad reach, he chose 50 cities to start with.
Taking inspiration from the words of Mahatma Gandhi — “Everyone needs to be their own scavenger,” — Ripu considers his life has come to a complete circle, as ‘Fit Indian’ and Government of India organised a plogging event on October 2nd.
Inspired by him, this event was organised across 62,000 locations and more than crore people participated. However, when asked about his inspiration, he gives a major credit to his upbringing, especially his mother. He says she has played a vital role in moulding and inspiring him.
Although ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission was a great success, he felt the need that it must be permutated to each household of India. The interaction with PM Narendra Modi and ‘Shahenshah of Bollywood‘ Amitabh Bachchan has only given him the much-needed boost to move ahead.
Ripu’s ‘plastic upvaas‘ is something that every citizen should get inspired from. Under this unique fast as he doesn’t consume anything wrapped in a single-use plastic wrapper.
Currently, R-Elan backs his mission of ‘R-Elan run to make India litter-free‘. In this mission, the collected PET bottles are sent to the company where they recycle it and convert it into ‘green gold fibre/fabric.’ Other non-recyclable plastics are used for making roads. Moreover, local municipalities and other waste management groups have also provided helping hands.
With his dream turning a reality, he hopes to collaborate with international brands in helping to convert this litters into something useful, in the near future.
Even though he had to face all sorts of reactions from people, his mission is finding its horizon after the honourable PM took the initiative to do plogging. In his starting days, it was quite challenging to make people get along, but his biggest challenge was to change the orthodox mentality that ‘cleaning is someone else responsibility.’
”Ragpickers aren’t the one who should be called KACHREWALE; actually, they are the SAFAIWALA as they clean our mess and we are the ones who create it.,” Ripu echoed PM Modi’s words.
”The idea of not creating litter must be in our DNA,” he added.
He has formulated three steps for litter-free surrounding:
1. Put your litter in a trash bin only
2. Pick litter from the road and put in the trash bin if you see.
3. If you don’t see a trash bin, take it home, segregate into wet and dry waste and give it to the municipality.
Well, if you guys thought that after the 50 chosen cities he might stop, then you were wrong. This is just the beginning, and there is a lot more to be done.
He has plans ready for the next 15 to 18 months with the support of the government (Sports Authority of India, Fit India). With this, he is expecting more people to join his noble cause. Moreover, he says that such activities should be made part of schools’ and colleges’ curriculum. ”In this way, we can create a generation with a routine of litter-free mentality,” he says.
“Never lose hope and self-belief. There are thousands of things that can push you down to your limits but always hope for the positive. In a country like India, where millennials are given with so much freedom, we should not forget our responsibility. Do something good for the nation, your family and most importantly yourself,” Ripu concluded.
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