In the midst of the 'feel good factor' and high decibel slogans of progress and India shinning, Youthreach, a Delhi based non-profit organisation, is doing its bit to draw the attention of the concerned and socially aware citizens of the country to another reality - the lives of disadvantaged children.
India is home to 400 million children, the largest number in any country in the world and 40 per cent of these children live in poverty and extreme hardship. Over 10 million children live, work, play, sleep, dream on the streets and sidewalks of the cities.
So what is the scorecard of the Government in bettering the lives of these children? The Government of India spends 18 per cent of its national budget on defence; it spends 3.25 per cent of its national budget on education. About 60 per cent of primary schools in India have no chalk, 65 per cent have no blackboards, 35 per cent have no mats to sit on, 50 per cent have no playgrounds and there is one pre-school for every 8,000 children. These are some of the many startling facts Youthreach brings to the fore through If I Were Rain, a book about children, by children.
If I Were Rain is a visual and testimonial tribute to the spirit of India's disadvantaged children who live in poverty, exploitation and exclusion. Structured around the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the book examines India's urban reality in the context of a child's basic rights and the experiences of children living in disadvantaged circumstances. "Through their voices, poetry, art and in-depth stories, these children talk about their greatest challenges and their hopes for the future," says a Youthreach official. "We seek to dispel the half story that has been created and persists about the lives of these children. We felt the need to fill the gaps and create a window that shows the light that shines through them."
For the book to see the light of the day many committed Indians had to work round the clock on the project. It took three years in the making and involved over 20 photographers, 12 translators, a core editorial team of 14 people, 10 children's organisations, over 75 children, more than 150 images and eight in-depth photo/text stories shot by six commissioned photographers. Forty-five editorial workshops were conducted to gather children's testimonials that form the backbone of the book.
Youthreach has spoken with a couple of publishers who have evinced interested in the project but would sell it at 'too grand' a retail price. "In order to control its final retail price, we decided to raise the sum required through corporate and individual donors," says a Youthreach official. The introductory retail price is fixed at Rs 750 with the proceeds from the sale to go to children's organisations that Youthreach works with. © 2004 agencyfaqs!First Published : February 17, 2004