‘Balaknama’ is a newspaper run completely by the slum dwelling children of Delhi and adjoining states. The eight-page paper publishes stories on the lives of street children, focusing on issues like sexual abuse, child labour, police brutality, as well as positive feel good stories.
“If a Bollywood actor’s dog gets hurt, it will be breaking news and will be covered by all newspapers and channels in India. But when a street kid dies on a railway platform or in an accident, no one seems to care,” Vikas Kumar, who works as a journalist for Balaknama told Al jazeera. Vikas used to work as a ragpicker and battled with drug addiction, but has now found hope and, more importantly, a voice in Balaknama.
Published in Delhi, the newspaper has 14 regular reporters in the national capital, and is supported by voices from child reporters from across Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana. The newspaper, priced at two rupees, is financed and published by Chetna, a local NGO. It has a circulation of 5,500, which has been rising over the past few years. The newspaper, however, has been struggling to find advertisers and government support for years.
The newspaper is edited by Chandni, who previously worked as a ragpicker and street performer. In an interview with India Today, Chandni said, “I am very proud of editing this paper because it’s one of a kind in India. Children whose childhoods have been robbed, have gone hungry, begged, been abused and forced to work, write about other children who are going through similar tribulations.”
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