At 12, he is newspaper editor, reporter and publisher

By Asit Srivastava, IANS,

Allahabad : He is all of 12 years but Utkarsh Tripathi painstakingly brings out a handwritten newspaper every week to spread awareness among his peers on issues like the environment and female foeticide. And all this to satisfy his urge to “serve the country”.

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A Class 8 student of the Brij Bihari Sahai (BBS) Inter College in Allahabad, Utkarsh has been bringing out the newspaper Jagriti for the last one year.

And for the four-page, black-and-white newspaper, Utkarsh not only dons the role of a reporter, editor and publisher, but also turns hawker for circulating the weekly.

Unlike other papers, readers of Jagriti don’t have to spend a single penny — Utkarsh distributes it free of cost.

“Yes, I manage it all alone. Right from gathering the content, its editing, publishing and ultimately distributing the copies to readers,” Utkarsh, a resident of Khatju colony in Allahabad, told IANS.

“I know, you would like to know how I publish the newspaper. First I prepare a handwritten copy of Jagriti and later take out copies at a photocopy shop in my locality… It’s simple,” he explained.

Jagriti has about 150 readers belonging to varied age groups in Allahabad, some 200 km from the state capital Lucknow.

“Children comprise the major chunk of Jagriti readers…my school friends, my seniors in school, teachers and also my neighbours,” he said.

According to Utkarsh’s father Hari Prasad, who runs a coaching institute, his son has a flair for writing and wanted to serve the country in some way.

“More than a year ago, he read an article on Indo-China relations in a Hindi daily. I don’t know what came into his mind… After reading the article, he came to me and asked me to suggest a way he could serve the country,” Prasad said.

“At that time I wasn’t sure how serious he was about the question… I said that joining the defence services was one of the best options to serve the country… To this, he said that he wanted to start serving the society from his school life itself. I then suggested why not work like a journalist and make people aware of their rights,” he added.

Utkarsh took the suggestion seriously and came up with Jagriti.

“I named the newspaper Jagriti, as my mission was to make people aware of various issues affecting them,” the 12-year-old said.

“I try to cover social issues pertaining to environment, female foeticide and others in the editorial section, and also information about public welfare schemes and important government policies for the betterment of the poor or children,” Utkarsh added.

Jagriti also has success stories of scientists, political leaders and other prominent personalities.

But how does he get time from his studies to bring out a weekly newspaper.

“I believe if anyone is passionate about something, he or she can take out some time to purse his passion, irrespective of the hectic schedule,” Utkarsh replied.

“I spend some time daily on researching topics and gathering public utility information from sources like magazines, news dailies and the internet. On Sunday I get more time to work on my project and make pictorial representations that could go along with the articles,” he said.

Utkarsh’s efforts are much appreciated by people in Allahabad.

“He has shown all of us that an ordinary person can contribute to the society in one way or other…You just need to have an urge for that,” Kashi Kesarwani, a resident of Chandpur area, told IANS.

Nutan Devi, a local journalist and the boy’s neighbour, said; “For me it’s real journalism… It has revived the decades-old objective of journalism that seems to have now have got lost somewhere…”

(Asit Srivastava can be contacted at [email protected])