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India: A Healthy Approach

India: A Healthy Approach

He’s found his song in life. Raju Inamdar has taken the novel route of spreading the message of social health across Maharashtra and parts of states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh through the novel medium of singing, acting and painting.

Born in Parincha, a small village near Pune, Inamdar, 32, was, in his own words, a spoilt child. ” It was when I was in my standard twelfth that Foundation for Research in Health Communication came to Parincha. They organised a number of street plays in order to promote social health. I actively participated in the street plays that they conducted and didn’t even realise when I got absorbed into it full time,” says Inamdar, who started working with the Health ministry in the year 1994.

In Parincha, Inamdar found himself dealing with a society that was completely burdened with the baggage of archaic traditions like dowry, mantrik and child marriage. “The government is doing a lot of activities for such people but after the awareness drives are over, people tend to forget the messages. On observing this, I realised that I need to talk to villagers in the language that they understand,” Inamdar says.

It is this philosophy that makes Inamdar organise puppet shows, street plays and singing programs for communicating with the society. “Health Communication is beyond education and medicine. While doing street plays to depict local challenges we gather children from the villages. Spoons and pots from the kitchen replace the characters in the puppet shows. This helps the audience to relate to things. After the puppet shows, we organise interactive sessions where people open up. They have been found saying that they have similar problems in their house. It is activities like these that have helped us handle problems like dowry, child marriage and suicides, among others,” he says.

Further adding he says, “We have solved countless problems using loksangeet as a medium. I compose songs that explain the anatomy of the body and sing these songs in front of the villagers. It helps them understand that there is a science behind the human body and going to a tantrik and using dhoop and similar medicines is not a remedy for diseases.”

Physical health according to Inamdar is just a small part of a bigger concern- social health. “I feel great when villagers call me Rajudada with respect and when little girls come and thank me because due to my advice, they escaped child marriage,” says a satisfied Inamdar who is now a state- level consultant for social organisations like Masum, Yashada and MAVIM.

Manisha Gupte, founder of Masum, an NGO Inamdar has been closely associated with, feels, “Raju Inamdar is an extremely dedicated person. His wife is an arthritis patient, after working for the villagers he makes sure that he is there for his wife at the end of the day. He has inspired his sister to join kalapathak, a street play troop, as a representative of the ray of hope for the villagers; he has named his daughter- Arzoo. All this just indicates one thing and that is his devotion for this noble cause.”

And that is not enough; Inamdar also runs Balpanchayat, a panchayat run by children. “I feel that democracy in India needs to reach the grass root level. Right from childhood, children need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities. They need to fight for their own challenges. In Balpanchayat, be it sexual abuse in schools or problems in education, children voice them all,” he concludes.

Source: Express India – 14 April 2008

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