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How this Hong Kong-based RJ is giving voice to unsung heroes of Indian Army

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By Rukma Singh

Jaya Peesapaty has taken up an initiative to create awareness about the unsung heroes of the Indian army in Hong Kong. She is a Radio Jockey for a show called, ‘Jai Hind’ on Telegu One radio where she talks about Indian soldiers and martyrs. She is also a teacher in an International Preschool. Once she realized the power of Internet radio, she combined her skill with her passion for Indian army.

She spoke to Newsgram about her show, the response it has received, and her inspiration behind it. Excerpts from the interview:

Rukma Singh: Tell us about your journey and foray into the world of Radio Jockeying.

Jaya Peesapaty: I am the founder and president of the Hong Kong Telugu Samakhya. With an interest to learn more about the Telegu community and its activities, I started sending out my reports to a website called, “teluguone.com” and to “Sirakadambam”, another web magazine. Meanwhile, Telugu One came up with an idea of starting an Internet radio show and they wanted me to host it so I accepted their offer. This is the third year of my show.

RS: What encouraged you to base your show ‘Jai Hind’ along the theme of the Indian Army?

JP: In the beginning, I used to conduct two-hour sessions every weekend. Then, I understood that radio is a very powerful medium. Why not use it to encourage interaction between the Indian community and our army? Earlier, I wanted to do a show on our freedom fighters but realized that most of the information about them is given out in schools and colleges. With an aim to do something different, I came up with the idea of talking about unsung heroes from our armed forces.

I always wanted to join the Armed Forces Medical College, but I couldn’t. Since then, I wanted to do something for our Army.

RS: How has the audience responded to the show?

JP: The very first year was difficult. This was a new show and I did not have too many connections with people from the Army. It was a live show, so callers who knew about it started calling and talking to us.

One day, a caller who worked with an NGO for the armed forces, told me that he knew people from the Indian Army who might want to come to the show and talk about their experiences.

RS: Did you face any challenges in setting up and publicizing the show?

JP: Yes, initially, I did face issues with language. The show was in Telugu and it was not a language known to all people who wanted to come on the show. So, I decided to continue the show in English, and then translate it in Telugu for the community.

Apart from that, the other challenge I faced initially was that the management was not sure if they wanted to go ahead with this idea. They felt that armed forces might not be willing or permitted to talk about it. It was then that I clarified that the show will only be about their experiences and not technicalities.

RS: How has been the experience of interacting with the Indian army and their families?

JP: The experience has been very motivating. People spoke their hearts out. This is a platform where they did not have to worry about technicalities, or any rules and regulations binding them. They only had to talk about their personal and emotional experiences in the Army. Many people, like Major DP Singh and Naveen Nagappa came on the show and shared their experiences during the Kargil war. Major Singh shared with us his experience of being in the hospital for two years due to a war injury. His emotional journey was really moving. I was glad that people could feel safe in talking to us and sharing their feelings. This show helped me in bringing awareness about our unsung heroes into the general community.

RS: What is the status of the Indian community in Hong Kong, in terms of their awareness about happenings in India?

JP: As far as I have seen, because of the Internet, everyone keeps in touch with latest happenings. What I have experienced is that the media talks very little about the martyred soldiers. They deserve more recognition. That is the main reason why I took this initiative.

RS: Apart from the radio show, what else do you do?

JP: Well, propagating my mother tongue has been one of the main concerns in my life. I also conduct Telugu classes for people. I write in Telugu for a web magazine. Apart from that, I also host a Hindi show called ‘Jai Jawan’ on Radio Khushi.

RS: What are you future plans for the show?

JP: Well, as of now, I am very happy with the way our show has turned out. We have regular callers and now officers are contacting us on their own with a desire to share their feelings with us. The format for now is mostly Skype and audio calling. In the future, I would like to keep it going and work on other modes of communication.

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Return to Jammu- A Novel About a Journey

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother's struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

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He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Sanasar, Jammu and Kasmir- wikimedia commons

This is the engrossing tale of Balan, a kid from South India who grows up in the towns of Punjab, Jammu and Haryana. It captures the eventful journey of Balan’s childhood, his schooling, and the friends he makes and loses due to transfers of his father, serving in the Indian Army.

“Return to Jammu” is a first-person narration and with the timelines, places and real-life personalities and events, the reader gets a feeling that it is an autobiographical novel. The author clarifies that all characters and the story per se are fictional but confesses to borrowing liberally from many episodes of his childhood in telling the story.

“If you happen to be acquainted with me enough to perceive a passing resemblance of me in Balan, you would be right; and yet if you find the resemblance rather tenuous and liberally adulterated, you will be equally right too,” says the author in a preliminary note.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college.
V. Raghunathan-Author of the book Return to Jammu, wikimedia commons

Balan, son of a junior commissioned officer hailing from Kerala and having Tamilian roots, is born in the Ambala cantonment in 1954. He narrates his story even before his birth, relying on family tellings.

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother’s struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father’s transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college. Because of his diminutive size, he is saddled with sobriquets like pocket edition, Lilliputian and Madrasi, and sees his self-esteem falling dangerously.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Jammu and Kashmir Map, wikimedia commons

It’s at Satwari near Jammu that he develops childhood friendship with many, most importantly with Jeevan Asha or Jeesha, who was two years older and also taller than him. Soon, however, Balan’s father is again transferred to Ambala and he is separated from his friends, especially Jeesha. He writes letters to his friends and receives responses from all, except Jeesha.

Overcoming all odds and with hard work, Balan completes his studies and joins the State Bank of India. Now a confident young man, he works hard and finally makes it to the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. (It was at IIM, Ahmedabad, that the author taught finance.)

Also Read: 70 years after Independence power reaches Elephanta Isle near Mumbai 

There he comes across a girl called Jasmine Pundith. He believes she is his good old buddy Jeesha. Bu she shows no sign of recognition and when he tries to remind her about their childhood friendship, Jasmine tells him that she is a citizen of the US and has no link with Jammu.

Convinced that she is none other than Jeesha, Balan travels to Delhi to find out more about her family. He even returns to Jammu, where he meets her brother Niranjan. What Balan comes to know from him forms the climax of the story.

The book is worth a read also for the author’s eye for detail, whether it is canal system of Jammu, the picturesque Kashmir valley, especially Uri, the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi, or a visit by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. (IANS)