IndiaUnheard Community Correspondents
Achungmei Kamei, Manipur
She has always been an outsider. In her home state of Manipur, Achungmei Kamei is caught between the state who insists she’s Indian and the separatists who call for a separate Naga country. When she moved to Bangalore for further studies, her classmates kept mistaking her for Chinese or Korean or Nepali but definitely not an Indian. She completed her degree in Mass Communications and returned to her state to work for the national radio station. Back home, she once again saw divisions- blockades, strikes, violence etc that were forcing her to choose sides. It is this precarious situation and the stories of the innocent people caught in between that she wants to report to the world. Watch her videos here.
Ajeet Bahadur, Uttar Pradesh
Completely disillusioned by the apathy of conventional media, Ajeet Bahadur began digging deep to uncover real stories about real people. Living up to his self-definition of a ‘fearless human rights activist’, Ajeet challenges himself, his community and mainstream media through his work as a Community Correspondent by revealing untold stories of the oppressed and using his videos for IndiaUnheard as tools to fight for justice. Watch Ajeet’s videos here.
Oinam Ajit Singh, Assam
The prodigal son of Silchar, Assam, Oinam Ajit Singh left the village where he was born, with its mud roads and lack of high schools and doctors and moved to the nearest city to complete his education. But once he got his degree, the village called him back. Going against the wishes of his family, Ajit became a journalist with a desire to report on how time stood still for villages like his. But he found his voice being subsumed by the mainstream media. He then found the light in community video with which he could reach into his own roots and reach out into the world.Watch Ajit’s Videos here.
Amit Kumar, Haryana
Amit Kumar is a Dalit activist and Community Correspondent from Haryana, a state infamous for violence inflicted upon the lower castes. His first video, ‘Caste Violence in Haryana’, exposes the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual devastation wrought by members of the upper caste Jat community upon the lower caste Dalits and the internal police corruption which allows it to happen. Personal, provocative and proactive, Amit’s IndiaUnheard videos continue to shape a new platform from which he, and victims of violence, discrimination and caste slavery, can find justice. Watch Amit’s Videos here.
Amit Joshi, Rajasthan
Amit Joshi from Jodhpur, Rajasthan is a firm believer in the transformative power of art. A high school art teacher who set up his own NGO which helps spread awareness on the problems facing the country through art. He has also been associated for a long time with a Community Video Unit and understands the power of community media to empower and bring about change. Passionate about the issues of water supply, poverty and the fight against the bureaucratic red tape, he wants the IU platform to become the global voice of his community.
Amol Lalzare, Maharashtra
Amol Lalzare is a proud self-confessed denizen of Mumbai, the city that never sleeps. Born and brought up in the Sathe Nagar slums, he views the world from inside out and finds that the city he loves, seems to forgetting his people and leaving them behind. An experienced community producer, he realizes the urgency of having a voice and platform for marginalized communities, especially in times like this when the country is prone to bouts of selective amnesia. Watch Amol’s videos here.
Anand Pagare, Maharashtra
Anand Pagare is a media activist working in one of the most sensitive areas in the country, Malegaon. A boiling pot of communal strife, the town is in the constant grip of violence and religious tension but while these stories are picked up by the mainstream presses, there are atrocities that happen under the radar. Anand, born in a migrant dalit family, chronicles the oppression within the rigid caste system, the denial of basic rights to his community, the toll that migration takes on them and the fallout of communal violence on his community. Watch Anand’s videos here.
Anupama Das, Assam
As a child, Anupama Das from Kakrajhar district, Assam witnessed a friend lose her life just because she spoke a different language. It was an incident that, in her own words, made her a ‘rebel’. For long she witnessed the people around her turning against each other in the name of religion, language, creed and caste. She noticed the women in the community suffering mutely against the bloodshed. Anupama’s camera is the eye that captures all those in her community who want to speak out against these mindless, endless atrocities. Watch Anupama’s videos here.
Avdhesh Negi, Himachal Pradesh
Avdhesh Negi, from Solan, Himachal Pradesh is a disillusioned young man. His family migrated from the village to city in search of a better life but according to him, in spite of all the hardships they endured, they never found what they were looking for. Solan is supposed to be the one of the richest cities in the state but at night, there are tiny single beds shared by more than three people. He thinks the mainstream news is only for the rich and powerful and as a Communit Correspondent, he stands against it speaking out for the common people, for the real picture. Watch Avdhesh’s videos here.
Bhan Sahu, Chattisgarh
Bhan Sahu thought being poor meant walking a kilometer to school and then having to drop out when she was eight years old, until she started working at an NGO and realized there were others even less fortunate than herself. Her interest in education didn’t wane, however. Using video as a tool to bring people together, her Community Correspondent reports for IndiaUnheard focuses on education and the rights of tribal people. Watch Bhan’s videos here.
Christy Raj, Karnataka
The challenges of being a transgender person began in his teenage years for Christy Raj when she was banished from home after confronting her family with his sexual identity. Rescued from an uncertain fate by a group of eunuchs who embraced her as part of their family, Christy was eventually exposed to, and dismayed by, harassment and other harmful behavior wrought by the sensationalism and broken promises of identity protection by mainstream media. Now, as an IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Christy is regarded as a trustworthy media spokesperson for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer communities and works towards exposing and addressing the discrimination they face. Watch Christy’s videos here.
Daniel Mate, Manipur
‘A Village Lacks Healthcare’ isn’t just a video made by Community Correspondent Daniel Mate, it was a serious problem for the people of Tengaoupal in the Chandel district of Manipur, an area rife with ethnic and political conflict. But within a month of the video’s broadcast, several cartons of lifesaving medicine, which the villagers previously had no access to, were donated by a local organization called Burning Voices. The aid not only brought relief to more than 500 people in need of serious healthcare, but also deepened the relationship between Daniel and the people in his region, which he continues to nurture through his work with IndiaUnheard. Watch Daniel’s videos here.
Devidas Gaonkar, Goa
Dozing off out of boredom was Devidas Gaonkar’s answer to his tribal Goan community’s cultural expressions, until becoming an IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent peaked his curiosity about various issues, including the threat of his tribe losing its culture to outside influences and the indiscriminate and illegal mining of iron ore and its associated violence. Asking the hardest questions when addressing the most difficult situations has not only reconnected Devidas with his community, but his tribal identity as well. Watch Devidas’ videos here.
Jai Kumar, Punjab
Punjab might have a reputation for being a prosperous state, but the state of sanitation affairs in Jai Kumar’s community left him the lucky survivor of a bout of gastroenteritis, leaving a trail of death and despair in its wake. What it also left behind was ‘Gastroenteritis Plagues Ludhiana’s Poor’, Jai’s IndiaUnheard video that prompted district health official to send in a clean-up crew, organize a health camp and distribute free medicine. His first video, ‘Corrupt Cops Ignore Rape’, resulted in a case being filed in support of a Dalit girl in his community who was gang raped, despite the police’s initial refusal to do so. Through his work as a Community Correspondent, Jai continues to capture the reality of the struggles and successes of his community and surrounding areas. Watch Jai’s videos here.
Jyoti Bairagi, Madhya Pradesh
Jyoti Bairagi from Mandala, Madhya Pradesh comes from a tribal community that follows the doctrines of Saint Kabir, a mystic poet who preached equality, justice and love above all. She is peeved that the followers of this figure of peace and enlightenment condone practices like the exchange of dowry. It’s not only the problems within the community that she wishes to speak out against but also the lack of education, sanitation, potable water and the fact that the politicians only seem to arrive, appear concerned and make promises when the elections are due.
Kumar Mukesh, Haryana
After working for years in the mainstream media, Kumar Mukesh couldn’t seem to shake off the nagging feeling that there was something seriously lacking in their spectrum of coverage. The community voices were missing, the caste issues and gender issues were disregarded, the setting up of Special Economic Zones were covered extensively but what of the people who lost their lands and livelihoods? He volunteers for community media because he believes it is an essential link between the grassroots and the mainstream and that it is a media revolution that will spread and flourish. Watch Kumar’s videos here.
Labin Rai, Sikkim
Labin Rai who belongs to the Nepali community in Sikkim is a natural behind the camera. He dropped out of school, worked hard doing odd jobs, saved up and brought his first camera. His photography helps him to cross the otherwise rigid boundaries that keep communities apart in his hometown. He is an environmentalist by passion and takes photographs for the department of environment. He wants to use his videos to make people aware of many ignored issues like the wanton usage of the plastic bags and the large scale deforestation that occurs in his district. Watch Labin’s videos here.
Luxmi Natiyal, Uttarakhand
As an only child, Luxmi Nautiyal grew up in a protective environment, never venturing out to explore her environment alone. But once she joined IndiaUnheard, Luxmi surprised herself as well as her community by integrating so fully that she is now, as a Community Correspondent, a pioneering spirit bent on addressing environmental, educational, and children’s rights issues. Watch Luxmi’s videos here.
M. Mani, Tamil Nadu
Helping others after he himself was assisted is a natural progression for M. Mani, who is working towards becoming his community’s parliamentary representative in the next five years. Between working with Aid India and as an IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Mani has education, health, corruption and empowerment covered – and is addressing issues related to them to the benefit of everyone in his community and beyond. Watch Mani’s videos here.
Margaret Jeoji, Tamil Nadu
Margaret Jeoji hails from a dalit Christian family in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, a state where the local media are all mouth-pieces of political parties, where the upper caste refuses to let go of its orthodoxy and where the women have been suppressed in the name of tradition. Margaret is a staunch human rights activist and feminist who has been working with community and women’s groups. She is exasperated with the media in her state which alternates between mindless entertainment and party propaganda and has no space for dalits, tribals and women. Margaret wants to cover the issues and concerns of her community from a women’s perspective. Watch Margaret’s videos here.
One of the most intrepid Community Correspondents in the IndiaUnheard network, Mercy Kamei is from the minority Rongmei Naga Tribal community in Manipur. Taking risks to report hard-hitting stories of insurgency, violence, injustice and neglect, Mercy speaks out for her community and others like them who have been denied basic rights and are wrongly persecuted as enemies of the state and lesser citizens. Fed up with the mainstream media distorting images and stories, she seeks to report raw, undoctored voices from the ground and piece together the real picture. Watch Marcy’s videos here.
Meribeni Kikon, Nagaland
For many years now, Meribeni Kikon from Kohima, Nagaland has been a close witness to civil unrest as rebel factions and the state fought relentlessly against each other. The focus of the media in her area has been almost exclusively on and around this war. But this bloody specter veils some other realities; the state capital lacks basic infrastructure like water pipes and taps, the electric supply and transport services are a joke, violence against women is rampant, human rights are casually violated. These are the stories that Meribeni wants to tell. Watch Meribeni’s videos here.
Mudassar Ali, Gujarat
For most, the communal violence ended with the last embers of the riots. But for Mudassar Ali, a tribal muslim from Panch Mahal, Gujarat the horror persists not just within him but from without. For him and his community, the shame of being mocked and discriminated against by the majority religion and the danger of yet another eruption of savagery is a daily reality. Mudassar, an experienced media activist, who has worked extensively with video and rural children, wants to narrate these dystopian experiences of his community and in doing so, rally for a change that has taken the country a long time coming.
Mukesh Rajak, Jharkhand
As one of IndiaUnheard’s youngest Community Correspondents, 18-year-old Mukesh Rajak is quickly evolving as an activist. With several videos focusing on irrigation, agriculture and corruption in Jharkhand’s educational system, Mukesh was awarded the Vivekananda Yuva (NGO) 2010 Excellence in Community Reporting award. His dream to become a professional videographer recently came true when he was offered, and accepted, a position with Prerna Bharti, an NGO that focuses on women’s health and education. Watch Mukesh’s videos here.
Nadeem Andrabi, Kashmir
His identity as a Kashmiri is constantly under siege between the army on one side and the terrorists on the other. In so fraught a place, the news that comes out is mostly propaganda in disguise and it becomes very difficult to know the real from the manufactured. Nadeem Andrabi wants to sift through this news and retell these stories as they actually played out. He seeks a chance at projecting a fair and clear picture of his community. He wants to go beyond the stories of terrorism and bring to light important issues like corruption which plague the land of Kashmir.
Rakesh Khanna, Madhya Pradesh
Barwani is a beautiful town in Madhya Pradesh called ‘The Paris of Nimar’ for its architectural and scenic splenetic. But for Correspondent Rakesh Khanna it is also land where many struggles are being fought fervently but they remain unheard. He has been an activist since the age of 14, when he participated in Narmada Bachao Aandolan (Save Narmada Movement) and worked closely for ensure resettlement of those displaced by the dam. With IndiaUnheard, he wants to bring these millions of unseen struggles to light and make sure that the noise they make is being heard. Watch Rakesh’s video here.
Rohini Pawar, Maharashtra
Rohini Pawar is well on her way to achieving her biggest dream of all – being independent. Becoming an IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent enabled her to evolve personally as well as professionally so that today, instead of being another statistic of early marriage, she is teaching others computer skills on one she bought herself, in the process of establishing a photography business and well on her way to doing for her community what she did for herself – make positive, empowering changes. Watch Rohini’s videos here.
Sajjad Rasool, Kashmir
A journalist dissatisfied with his work in the mainstream and a committed Right to Information activist, Sajjad Rasool from Badgam, Kashmir is concerned with the wayward development of his state. In spite of being rich in natural resources and one of the major producers of power, many people in the state still have to manage without basic amenities. According to Sajjad, it is the outcome of a lack of vision, rife corruption and zero accountability within the system. He feels that it is only through community media that he will be able to bring out these stories about Kashmir. Watch Sajjad’s videos here.
Sarita Biswal, Orissa
Born in a village where there are no schools that teach past the seventh grade, Sarita Biswal had to struggle and persevere to get literate. She wants to be the Community Correspondent of her community so she can make videos on the lack of basic infrastructure which impedes all progress not just in roads and medical services but also in thought and knowledge. With her videos she hopes to campaign and bring about much needed change in her neighborhood. Watch Sarita’s videos here.
For the khatik community from Derwada, Rajasthan life has been a constant struggle for recognition. Empty election time promises aside, these people seem to have no hope that their hardships will ever come to an end. Shambhulal Khatik want to become the voice of this disenfranchised community and others like it. He wants to report on the discrimination against them and to follow up on the progress of the politician’s promises. Watch Shambhu’s videos here.
Sulochana Pendekar, Goa
Sulochana Pendekar from Siolim, Goa has worked hard and against odds all her life. Her mother has been her inspiration throughout and its women like her that Sulochana wants to give a voice to. She is an passionate media and community health activist and intends to use her platform as a Community Correspondent to bridge the gap between the grassroots and civil society and spread awareness on key issues like health, sanitation, government schemes for women and children etc. Watch Sulochana’s videos here.
Sunita Kasera, Rajasthan
Sunita Kasera is no longer a stranger to being the first in many ways in her community after choosing to defy the traditional mindset in rural Rajasthan that looks down on working women and women with independent thinking and become and IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent. In her fight for human rights, particularly those of women and children, she has paved the way for other women to become reporters, obtain press cards, become members of the Press Committee, receive invitations from the government to cover public events and to become leaders in their communities. Watch Sunita’s videos here.
Sarwat Naqvi, Chattisgharh
Armed with a degree in law, Sarwat Naqvi stepped out from behind the cloak of invisibility he and his Shia Mulsim minority community in Chhattisgarh suffered from to lobby and advocate for the protection and advancement of human rights in marginalized communities. His video, ‘Homosexuals Seek an Identity’, on gay and lesbians in his community compelled members to form a support group. As an IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Sarwat is well on his way to developing a platform to voice the unseen and unheard issues of his community. Watch Sarwat’s videos here.
Satyawan Verma, Haryana
Trading in a career as a Sarpanch (village council chief) to liberate the voices of her community wasn’t an easy decision for Satyawan Verma to make, but it was the most beneficial one for him and his community. Foregoing the pressures of politics to become an India Unheard Community Correspondent has enabled Satyawan to combat gender discrimination and caste-based violence as well as instill in the people of his village the importance of education and awareness. Watch Satyawan’s videos here.
Varsha Jawalgekar, Bihar
Rather than remaining a victim, Varsha Jawalgekar deflected the blows of domestic violence inflicted upon her by her husband and became a champion of women’s rights. Currently a leader at the Parivartan Kendra (Centre for Change), Varsha also channels her human rights activism into various organizations in Maharashta and Bihar. She uses her IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent videos as calls to action for the people of her community and officials who have the power to effect positive change. Watch Varsha’s videos here.
Vipin Joshi, Uttrakhand
According to Vipin Joshi, tourism and development has been a curse for the Kumauni community of Uttrakhand. Instead of benefiting from the money it was bringing in, the community began to lose its land and livelihood. The media reports on the construction of the dam but there’s no mention of the people who have lost their lands; the tourism department paints a colorful picture but the environmental costs are never mentioned. Having worked in community radio, Vipin is familiar with the influence of community media. He now wants to use community video to document his people, tell their stories and use it to make an impact within his community. Watch Vipin’s videos here.
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