Communication Media for Social Awareness

"Clean Katraj - Smart Katraj"

Here I am going to present a small case I have taken up to see if proper media is used for communicating social issues can we make people follow it. An experiment where I have tried to use the principle of advertising to effectively communicate a message and try to bring about a change in HABIT.

A simple corollary that I want to test - If good advertising can help an individual change a brand of tea or shampoo - that is, effectively change my personal preference (a habit) - then is it possible that we can change a habit of non segregation of garbage at source.

Well of course there are many agencies involved. And they all had to work under a common agenda - so the first step was to get each organisation to work for a common cause - together. The key point is 'working together'. Individually the govt system (PMC) and NGOs have all been working independently on the same cause for some time now - each agency complaining about the others flaws. What was required was that the inadequacies of each working agency had to be brought on a common table (identification of loop holes) - agreeing that the identified issues fell in who's perview (so the blame game could stop) and finally identifying mechanisms 'together' to resolve the inadequacies - essentially sharing responsibilities.

This enormous task was taken up by Janwani an NGO under the MCCIA (Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture). Under the guidance of Kishori Gadre (Director Janawani) a project was designed and a ward identified.  Janawani is acting as the main facilitator and initiator for the implementation of the project. I was fortunate to get associated with Janwani - and I discussed my idea with Kishori - was it possible to get professionally designed communication material to spread the message. She agreed and my journey with the project took its first step by getting a logo / identity designed for the campaign. 

The objective for having an independent identity was simply to help all involved keep their agendas aside - use their individual strengths - to implement a campaign that took up a cause/issue that they were already working on!                                            Numerous meetings and site visits, at garbage depot, and dumps followed , initial surveys were conducted and data and manpower was shared by the contributing agencies. Funds flowed in with support of the Local Lion's Group, and now corporate houses are also planning to pitch in.
Through the post that now follow I would put up updates of how we went about the project. The ultimate objective is to get the Katraj ward to become the model ward with a ZERO garbage policy. 

(Janwani joined hands with the NGOs working in this sector to make it a representative ward for making it azero garbage and create sustainable system for decentralized waste management.
Janwani, Dhankawdi Ward office of Pune Municipal Corporation, Maharashtra Plastics Manufactures Association, and SWaCH Co-operative, Lions club international and local corporator are part of this initiative.)

Passion for Dance (Kathak)
I still remember the day when Vallarie (age 4 yrs) was very sad because her painjan (silver anklets with tiny bells) had broken. It was one piece of jewellery that she dearly loved. Now at eighteen, when I see her perform Kathak – I knew that the love for paijan or 'shoom-shoom' as she had named them, was much beyond the adornment it provided.

At 7 years when she had once gone for her regular evening stroll with her grandma (my mother), she heard the sound of ghungaroos (tiny bells used on ankles for the tinkling sound, by Indian classical dancers), she asked my mother to take her there. In a school classroom they found a lady teaching children and adults - Kathak. It soon became regular for them to stay back at the class and watch the dance training. Seeing her interest my mother ventured ahead and asked the teacher – Guru Mrs. Maneesha Sathe, if Vallarie could join. The teacher asked what Vallarie’s age was, and said she could not enrol her as she was not yet eight.

I was a little disturbed and felt why was this lady curbing the enthusiasm of my child? Wasn’t she killing her interest? My questions were answered most patiently by Maneeshatai – she said that she believes that the child is not physically and mentally prepared to go through the rigors of long practice sessions. And often this could make the child get ‘bored’ with the repetitive nature of the practise session. And in fact it was this early induction that could kill her interest!

This made a lot of sense to me and we decided to wait. The topic of dance was soon forgotten and Vallarie and my mom soon changed their route for their evening walks.

But what surprised me most when after the celebrations of her 8th birthday, and having gone over all her gifts Vallarie asked if we could go and enrol for the dance class. I could not believe this – a topic that we had not spoken of for the past 7 months! What amazed me that she had kept this in her heart for so long?

It’s been ten years since and I have witnessed 10 years of dedication to Kathak. Each time I watch her perform for a small programme or a competition I do not see my child dancing, but a dancer performing from her soul. And it reaches out to me, sitting way back in the audience, holding back that lump in my throat.The hug at the end of each performance is what I cherish the most today.