This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Samridhi Chugh. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Inmate-Turned-RJ Sheru Shares The Melody Of Precaution To The Outside World

More from Samridhi Chugh

Radio Signals, Covid-19, Jail And The Tinka Model Of Prison Reforms 

In an unmissable similarity with the confines of prison cells, the Coronavirus pandemic has locked us all to our respective houses. We are all bound by the revised laws of a pandemic-struck world. Unusual precautions have been written down, definitions of normalcy have been altered, and new offenses and deviations, such as the crime of not wearing face masks and violating lockdown guidelines – crimes no one had even imagined could exist, have been identified. 

It was, then, a moment to behold when Sheru, a 40-year-old inmate from Ambala Central Jail of Haryana, took to the medium of radio to reinforce the importance of adhering to Covid-19 norms. Currently serving a 10-year sentence, the inmate-turned-RJ of ‘Ambala Jail Radio’ employed his resilient, melodious vocals to warn the world against any carelessness during the looming pandemic. 

Sheru is amongst the 21-odd inmates selected across Tinka Tinka Jail Radio projects in Haryana in December 2020. His passion for music prompted him to give life another chance. His unique compositions and an ear for rhythmic lyrics impelled him on a journey to become one of the most inspiring beacons of light, not just for his fellow inmates and Tinka Radio Jockeys, but for the world at large. 

Trained and refined under the vision of the Tinka Tinka Foundation, led by Dr. Vartika Nanda, which aims to reform and reinvigorate India’s prisons, Sheru’s musical journey is inspiring. He began penning down new lyrical melodies almost the moment he was given the chance. With the inauguration of the Ambala Jail Radio on February 26, 2021, Sheru immediately began churning out new songs underlined with socially relevant messages. Perhaps, the four walls of a prison cell open your eyes to new realities of life. It could also be the effects of incarceration, of maintaining miles of distance away from the societal bustle, that propels inmates to visualize the bigger picture and ponder over the evils plaguing our ordinary world. 

The final song, written in Punjabi, Sheru’s mother tongue, is a paradigm of everything the Tinka Model of Prison Reforms stands for. The piece encapsulates Sheru’s message to the world on learning to live with the pandemic but also captures his determination to take the world past the tunnel of ignorance in his own measured ways. 

When Sheru sings, “Corona tohn darr, bandeya, pata nahi kado kinu lag jaana… munh te mask la le tu nahi taan tu duniya toh jaana…” (Men, fear Corona, who knows when and who catches it… wear a mask on your face or you’ll be forced to leave this world…) his voice reverberates in an all-knowing fervor. Sheru knows what it is like to be separated from the public sphere, from his family, and from a world he knew as his own, with the fateful turn of time. In his pursuit of educating his listeners on COVID-19 appropriate behavior and protocol, Sheru reiterates the many difficulties the world has undergone ever since the dawn of the ‘new normal. 

The song, shared by the then Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Twitter has been appreciated for bolstering the state-led program of raising public awareness on COVID-19 and prevention measures. 

Released as Episode-16 of Tinka Tinka Prison Radio on platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Google Podcasts, the song exemplifies the power of music and brings home the indispensable message of vigilance and caution in the face of the pandemic knocking on our doors. The YouTube Channel, Tinka Tinka Prison Reforms, is the only channel in India that solely focuses on prison reforms and brings in authentic voices from prisons in each episode. These are conceptualized, scripted, and directed by Vartika Nanda. 

With the potential to serve as a public service announcement, the song inspires the prison community to empower itself with a renewed creative fervor. Jail Superintendent Shri Lakhbir Singh Brar called Sheru’s song a moment of reckoning for its primary audience – the inmates themselves. “Sheru’s passion for music will certainly boost the morale of the rest of the inmates, as Tinka Tinka’s prison radio project grows and enlightens their lives,” said Shri Brar. In this process, Tinka’s Prison Radio and Sheru’s musical message is also spreading its wings amidst the masses who rarely ever look up to legally condemned inmates to impart any socially important lesson. 

With now over 47 inmates working as RJs, artists, singers, musicians, and technicians, in 7 operational Tinka Tinka Prison Radio stations across Haryana, it is hoped that the neglected prison community will pioneer new avenues of artistry and betterment. It is certain that with their unique creative talents, RJs like Sheru will soon carve their own places in the hearts of common people. As the inmates embrace the rays of change in jails, it is inevitable that they shall take up the mantle to reform the society for the better, especially in today’s gloomy times when it is these bright sun rays that the world needs the most. 

(The author of this article is a final year student of the Department of Journalism, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi.)

Feature image is for representational purposes only
You must be to comment.

More from Samridhi Chugh

Similar Posts

By Ali Qalandar

By Raju Murmu

By Yash C

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below