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elvis picLast week we managed to catch up with Khevito Elvis Lee who is the Project Manager of BASIC, the brains behind 7×7 the music project. A music project that brought 7 bands from the 7 states of North East India together for one cause – a drug free North East India.

 

What’s BASIC? What’s the whole idea behind it?

BASIC (Be Aware, Support, Inform & Care) is an ongoing quest which began in August 2011 to bring about positive social change through various social innovations and collaboration with diverse social contributors.

BASIC is an answer to a quest a group of friends had that resulted from daily and casual discussions on various issues and problems that plague our society. Awakened to the need of people around us, we felt an impending need to do whatever we can to be agents of change. We desire to make people aware of the issues that society live with, garner support from people to tackle these issues, inform people of ways and means to tackle the issues, whilst caring for all of God’s creation by serving with a heart of love and inculcating an attitude of stewardship.

BASIC’s Mission is ‘To create positive social change and build a just and equitable society’.

Some of BASIC’s objectives include:
• Fund raising
• Networking & connectivity
• Capacity building
• Awareness campaigns
• Advocacy
• Youth empowerment
• Active engagement with people through social media & online platforms
• Research & publication
• Economic empowerment
• Social and cultural promotion
• Advisory Services to NGOs & Corporate

 

7×7. That’s a great initiative. Why did you choose music as a medium?

Because Music being a universal language and one of the most powerful tools to reach out to the youth. Our main objective is to engage and work with youth on the issues of drug abuse. And music is something that we all love and listen to without any barrier or discrimination of community, tribe or boundaries. 7×7 not only unite various bands from different northeast states but also feature the diverse music talents that the region has.

BASIC 7 bands

7 bands from 7 States. How did you manage to bring together the bands? How did you finalize on the line-up? Did you have to leave out any interested bands as such?

Many of our friends and contacts in music industry helped us in getting through various bands and artists. I personally know many musicians and have been active in music scenario for some time now. Our Criteria and preference was to bring different Genre of music, second gender balance and third was age group. Yes, we had to leave out some good bands …but we will work with them in future in other platforms as and when things develop. NE region is indeed blessed with good musicians and it’s hard to just choose 1 band from each state.

 

Now this maybe a little touchy but why only 7 states? Any reason why Sikkim was left out?

Not any such particular reason but we thought that it would be difficult for us to find bands for this cause through our contacts in such a short period of time and so we thought we will just go ahead with the seven sisters states. Our aim is to however reach out to as many people as possible anywhere through this project and …try finding solutions to the issues which is everywhere and for that matter we are planning to organize the 1st concert in Delhi.

 

What was the hardest part about organizing the campaign and launching it?

There were many hurdles like searching for sponsors, financial help, etc…But by God’s grace we were able to release the album successfully. So far we have got no support from others, we have individually supported and contributed.

 

How is the response so far?

So far the response is going good and people are excited and eager to listen to the songs. We are getting lots of queries regarding the sale of cd’s. We hope that the CD’s will be available in most of the states very soon and we are working on that.

 

What else are you doing apart from the music campaign to create the awareness in the region?

We are working on other projects as well and trying to organize small campaigns with other groups which we will update soon.

Also since the process of this music project itself is a long and widely engaging with different people, hence most of the time our team is occupied with this project.

We are networking and approaching many platforms like youth groups and through the music album sharing the message and need to create awareness. We believe every person or groups involve in selling the CDs or who is part of this music process is itself half awareness done.

 

How’s the current scenario/situation in the region regarding HIV?

The current scenario/situation seems to be getting bad but it has not been brought to the limelight and only certain facts and figures are highlighted by the government which is not inclusive of many full stories behind the scene. Many people especially in remote villages are still yet to be sensitize on the issues of HIV and AIDS. Unless we reach out to all and encourage conducting HIV testing and making facilities available easily, we are far from proclaiming the real and true status of the menace in the region.

Recent news highlighted that North-eastern states like Manipur, Nagaland, Assam and Mizoram have emerged as India’s new smuggling hub. Tablets manufactured by companies in Delhi and Haryana, are transported in trucks to Guwahati, from where they are taken to Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur before entering Myanmar. According to official statistics, smuggling of synthetic drugs like amphetamine and methamphetamine in and out of Northeast has been on the rise.

The latest NACO report reveals that Manipur has 25,369 HIV positive people, the highest in the Northeast.
The latest figures released by Nagaland State Aids Control Society (NSACS) on HIV & AIDS scenario in the state show that the state as a whole and Dimapur and Kohima in particular still continue to face a grim future. Of the 23388 people who have undergone HIV test between April and May this year 435 persons were tested positive. Hence we can see that the figures and determine how things are happening. But still there is confusion in the figures because consultant, VBD, NSACS said that out of 5, 37,867 persons screened so far 14,162 was tested HIV positive in Nagaland. So here you see the difference.

On the other hand in our neighboring state Mizoram the increasing drug menace has compelled the state government to formulate a new drug policy as at least 10,750 youths in the state, which has a population of barely 10 lakh, are intravenous drug users (IDUs), said Delhi-based UNODC project coordinator Kunal Kishore. I believe still a lot has to be done to stop this deadly disease from spreading towards the whole region of NE. We common people, the private organisations,schools,NGO’s and state govt. should all work together for the betterment of the society by bringing up campaigns, awareness programs, monitory help etc…

7x7_FINAL

Now that the Album has been launched, what else are you doing to boost the success of the campaign?

We are working for the grand concert on Nov 2nd with all the 7 bands here in Delhi so we are trying to network with many groups as we aim to make this a successful one. We are trying to identify the right platforms and groups to engage with. We are also planning for our next year state level activities and identifying partners and of course engaging with important outlet and tool like media. For us the main success will be to have people change their mindset towards the issues and encourage them to take up a stand and do their bit in addressing the issues in their own capacity and lives.

 

Is there any message that you would like to share?

We have read too many news and articles and faced too many disturbing real life cases to be left unchallenged by the need to respond. Let’s all take this journey together to find answers to the issues that ails our society and say boldly without regret that ‘We care, we tried and we did” something for our society, our family, our friends and our nation.

 

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Thanks so much, Elvis for your time and sharing some great insight on the 7X7 project and the works BASIC has been doing for the region. Now folks, the CD is priced at 200 INR and is available at the following cities :
1. Imphal, Manipur
2. Dimapur & Kohima, Nagaland
3. Guwahati, Assam
4. Shillong, Meghalaya
5. Hyderabad, AP
6. Delhi

 

Please buy the CD and help support the cause.