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Music For Change: Gujarat, 16 other states, sing, record songs against child marriage

By Jitendra Parmar* 
Singing in sync with the rest of the nation in arguably the largest ever campaign using music for a social cause, a large number of NGOs and individuals in Gujarat sang songs calling to end child marriage in the country as part of the ‘Music for Change’ initiative. So far, 331 such songs, from 17 states in the country, have been sung in local languages and dialects by women folk singers, local artists and villagers, and will be further spread to even the farthest and remotest corner of digital India through WhatsApp.
This unique initiative is part of the nationwide ‘Child Marriage Free India’ campaign led by women activists and civil society organisations in more than 300 districts in the country with the aim to eliminate child marriage by 2030, thereby saving 30 million girls from getting married. The campaign is being run with the focus on implementing the existing government policies and laws in the country that ensure child protection.
Using the powerful medium of music, folk singers, local artists and villagers, including men, women and children created anti child marriage songs in whatever capacity they could and recorded them in what is described as the first phase of ‘Music For Change’ initiative. The result is an overwhelming cache of 331 songs in various languages recorded in fields, farms, by lanes, panchayats, in schools and homes, and even in studios with an unprecedented zeal and passion.
Using the power of smartphones and Internet that have touched almost every terrain and fold of the country, these songs will not just be sung in village functions and get-togethers, but will also be distributed via WhatsApp.
From Anganwadi workers to people in tribal areas, from young children to old women survivors of child marriage, from village head to school headmaster, everyone has joined the movement and now voicing their protest not just through words but through music as well.
As part of the ‘Music For Change’ initiative, all the partnering NGOs in the 17 states have a common music template and are asked to sing a song in their language and share the recording. The NGOs are asked to record the lyrics and change it to suit their local context.
“Music is the language of the soul and has the prowess to reach the toughest and the farthest corners. Powerful music has the potential to stir souls and break chains. ‘Music For Change’ has given a new impetus to our ‘Child Marriage Free India’ campaign with local folks joining in from across the country, singing powerful songs to express their determination to end child marriage from the country. The campaign has been fuelled and is spreading by leaps and bounds due to such participation and determination from the grassroots,” Ravi Kant, India Head, Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation, said.
The original lyrics of the song that has been shared asks people to get up from wherever they are in the village or the community to change the face of the society, and join the movement to end child marriage. It gives a call to everyone to not just join from wherever they are, but also with whatever little or big resources they have. It asks people to join the women in this women-led movement and bring whatever tools they have. “If you make beards, join with your pair of scissors, if you are a rickshaw puller, join with the rickshaw…..” the song reads.
The 17 states that have joined the initiative so far are Andaman, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
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*With Bachpan Bachao Andolan 

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