By Dipendra Kumar Mazumder,
Faculty, NABM Delhi
Virtues and Vices have perennially been pulling man in opposite directions since the dawn of human civilization on earth. While some vices corrupt man insignificantly, others corrupt man to a great measure , which becomes crime in the eyes of the law. The long arm of the law then puts a hand-cuff on such persons and puts them between the high walls of a prison. Many of the prisoners repent their crime and change their course of life to a virtuous one. They are then released soon while others serve a life-term in jail. Most prisons have a well-chalked out policy for reformation of its prisoners.
The prisoners being humans like us, also long for their share of entertainment. It becomes pertinent on the part of All India Radio and Doordarshan ( the government-owned Radio and Television of India ) to care for the prisoners in India as well , both of them being Public-Service Broadcasters of India. A little entertainment for the prisoners on festive occasions does a lot of good in changing them into better citizens of the country.
It is with such a motive that I took an initiative as Head of Programme of All India Radio Tezpur , to organize a program of songs and dances in the District Jail at Tezpur in the north-eastern state of Assam in India , for its prisoners , on the eve of the Independence Day of India , in 2018. The All India Radio Station and the Doordarshan Kendra at Guwahati, the State Capital of Assam, joined hands in that endeavour of mine.
With due compliance of the security norms of entering a jail, all the participating artistes were brought into the central arena of the jail and so were all the man and machine , to record the show for Radio and Television.
It was a chance to see and feel life in confinement for reformation. But more than that it was a chance to share joy with our brethren in the prisons. The delight of the jail-inmates was so very palpable. A group of prisoners had been rehearsing for days at a stretch to present the opening group song in the program, that day. The Jail Superintendent himself being a passionate lover of music , had lent one of his composition to the prisoners and he even tutored them to present it , the best that they could. On stage, they gave their best and what a memorable performance that had been ! It had given them a chance to showcase their latent talent. The solitude and routine-life of a prison fosters the development of latent talent and had enabled even the first Prime Minister of India to exhibit his dexterity with the pen. He gave us some writings of eternal glory, which were written while he was imprisoned in the freedom struggle of India.
The children who had gone there to perform that day , had seen and felt the life in between the high walls of a prison, for the first time in their lives. After their performances, they were taken around the sprawling campus of the jail to see for themselves how the prisoners are taught livelihood skills like making furniture from cane and wood. They also saw how the uniform for the jail-inmates were made by the prisoners themselves, in the weaving and tailoring units.
The gardens inside the jail were also maintained by the prisoners and the colourful blooms were a testimony to the sincerity and dedication of the prisoners in their job. Vegetables for their own consumption too could be seen growing there in abundance.
The program that day by the various artistes and the jail-inmates electrified the atmosphere in the prison and at the end of it, everybody was served with a gastronomical delight , so that none returned hungry from the jail. We left the jail leaving behind a day of positive vibes , for its inmates.
Photography was strictly prohibited and so till today, only fond memories bring the light of that day, around me.