IndiaUnheard Community Correspondents
Saroj Paraste, Madhya Pradesh
Saroj Paraste feels that one of the major problems for marginalized communities is the lack of communication. Awareness of basic human rights and government plans and schemes is lacking and the communities are left out of the decision making processes that affect them. For the last 15 years, Saroj has been going door-to-door spreading awareness among her tribal community in Jabalpur. She has been empowering and mobilizing the people to demand their right to health, hygiene and education. Video, she feels, will help the voices and concerns of her community reach kindred ears across the world.Watch her videos here.
Guddu Lehre, Chhattisgarh
Guddu Lehre is dalit social activist with artistic leanings. Like every actor worth his salt, he spent three years struggling in Mumbai searching for film roles. A few small bits in serials came his away but he mostly came back to Chhattisgarh disappointed. Back home and with his friends, he tried to raise money for a homegrown Chhattisgarhi movie focusing on the urgent issue of mining. He describes his return from exile in Mumbai as his social awakening. Guddu associated himself with the Dalit groups in his community. He is an active campaigner against caste violence and a promoter of Dalit rights. He hopes that his work with IndiaUnheard can get his people and community talking on ‘the issues that matter.’ Watch Ajeet’s videos here.
Jitendra Khurrey, Chhattisgarh
Jitendra Khurrey is carrying on the legacy of social work that his father initiated into the family. As a child he grew up in poverty, relying for subsistence on the small farm the family owns and works on. Today, he is a youth leader in a dalit NGO. He works extensively with college students and young dalits across the country. On the eve of the IndiaUnheard, he became a proud father a little girl. He says that with his initiation into videoactivism and fatherhood, he begins a new life with a new purpose and full of hope for a brighter future.
K R Kunjam, Chhattisgarh
KR Kunjam is an adivasi from the conflict ridden Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. He was arrested on the mere suspicion of being a Naxal. He was kept in jail for 22 months in unspeakable conditions. While in prison, his rights and his body were repeatedly violated by the state. He was released in October 2011. He still bears the scars of his prison terms. He complains of moments of disorientation. As an IndiaUnheard CC he says that he will be putting a spotlight on the two biggest issues that plague his region – education and health.
Madhukar Gorakh, Chhattisgarh
Madhukar has over 40 years of grassroots experience in activism, starting with his long career with the with India People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) in the 70s. He has been relentless ever since. He rose in the ranks to become the secretary of IPTA’s Chhattisgarh chapter and was also a party worker with the Communist Party of India. His duty, he says lies in freeing the people from a tyranny that has stolen their culture. This is what he hopes to achieve with his videos.
Savita Rath, Chhattisgarh
Savita has come a long way since when she was brought up as a quiet mouse in an oppressively parochial upper class neighbourhood under the iron hand of her father. When she realized that there was a wide world outside her house which she had never experienced, she rebelled. She spent the next turbulent decade mired in activism. As a leader of many popular movements against the unjust practices of the corporate and the state in the distressed region of Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, she has frequently faced arrest and harassment at the hands of the authorities. But Savitha is unperturbed. She describes ‘video’ as yet another tool to further her and her community’s struggles and get their issues heard aloud and across the world
Ashit Kumar, Chhattisgarh
Ashit Kumar is father of one and veteran social activist with 7 years of field experience in rural Chhattisgarh. He conducts surveys of grassroots conditions regarding infrastructure and development. He says that his surveys reveal a depressing state of development that benefits a few while damning the rest. It also brings to light that awareness of laws and schemes and rights which can benefit and aid the marginalized is lacking. He holds the bureaucracy and red tape as responsible for the fact that a section of society has been kept economically, socially and politically deprived. He says that the need of the hour is ‘straight talking’. Something he hopes to achieve with his videos from the grassroots.
Madhu Tirki, Chhattisgarh
Madhu is an active theater worker from the tribal district of Jaspur in Chhattisgarh. She is only 23 and already has over 4 years of experience working for her community. The pressing need to contribute to family income forced her to drop out of education at the 12th grade and find work. Working for an ngo she was involved with important issues like health, displacement and forest rights by doing surveys and field visits. It was also when she was introduced to the art of theater for social empowerment and awareness. She found in theater the ability to drive home thoughts and ideas into the hearts and minds of her people but she feels that, that alone is not enough. She says that her videos aim to take the people’s issues above the heads of the authorities and connect with the hearts and minds all people across the world.
Reena Ramteke, Chhattisgarh
Reena Ramteke belongs to a remote village of 60 families in the district of Ghariabandh in the state of Chhattisgarh in Eastern India. The region that she lives in is heavily forested. Basic amenities like water, electricity, roads are lacking or altogether absent. Life is difficult. Poverty is rife. The state is hell bent on exploiting the forests and the mineral rich land. There is state violence and caste violence. The common person is disillusioned, she says. Addiction to alcohol and drugs is high. Her father is an addict, and the desire to change the root causes of his condition is what drove her to be an addict.
Ranjeeta Tirki, Chhattisgarh
Ranjeeta is an adivasi from Jaspur. She is 22 and new to the field of social work. Her mother is a social worker and she is Ranjita’s inspiration. She realizes that she has lot to catch up on but she says that she is learning quickly from the exposure she is getting at work. She’s starting and now with video, the possibilities ahead of her seem immense. The heart of her videos will be the issues and concerns of the marginalized adivasi communities in Jaspur.
Naeem Shah, Madhya Pradesh
Naeem belongs to the Ujjain district in Madhya Pradesh. He is a son of a muezzin in a mosque and is married with one child and another on the way. He works with Jan Sahas, an organization which works with manual scavengers. He belongs to the fakir caste and works with the helas who have been traditionally kept oppressed in the role of manual scavengers. It is his work and passion to ensure that members of the hela community employed for this hellish job and who live in hellish conditions are rehabilitated. He calls fakirs and helas as ‘brothers in woe’. Together they languish in the most oppressed spaces in society. Naeem believes that together they will fight for a better future.
Warles Surin, Jharkhand
Warles Surin gave up his job at an IT warehouse and returned to his village, which is along the Red Corridoor, to open a playschool. He is a community person at heart and finds most of the stories for his videos from his Sunday congregation. He says that the region he lives in is so cut away and remote that even the simplest problems like access to clean drinking water are ignored. He believes that his video allow his people to communicate with the world outside. He and his community is hoping to find a kindred soul and kind ear who will listen and help bring about change. Watch his videos here.
Kamal Kishor Purthy, Jharkhand
Kamal Kishor Purthy is an adivasi who has been working as a social activist for the last 15 years. The region he belongs to is remote. During the rains, his village sinks into floods. It is unconnected and almost inaccessible. Since becoming a Community Correspondent, Kamal Kishor has become a rare representative of the press in his region. Just the fact that he is making videos on the issues in his region and he has got the people to talk about has been enough to bring about many successes and social change. He describes himself as much more than a man with a camera. He is his people’s media, he says. Watch his videos here.
Paul Malto is an adivasi school teacher from the remote hilly region of Sahibganj in Jharkhand. In a region that does not even receive a cell phone signal, Paul is a rare literate individual. He says that it puts him in a position of responsibility. He is representative and mouthpiece of his community’s voice, something that he hopes to amplify with his videos.Watch Paul’s videos here.
Xavier Hamsay, Jharkhand
Xavier Hamsay’s father was a local tribal leader who lost his life because of the central role he played in his tribal community’s struggle for rights and recognition. Xavier says that he inherited the torch of the struggle the day his father passed away. He remains an inspired independent champion of human rights, going from village to village, listening to the people’s issues, consoling them, helping them bring about change. He believes that one dedicated man can create social change. And having a camera helps.
Chunnu Hansda, Jharkhand
Chunnu Hansda is a farmer and a seasonal daily wage laborer. He was busying eking out a difficult living when he heard that his closest friend had committed suicide because he had lost his all his money and savings as a result of governmental corruption. Chunnu says that this shocking moment made him reflect on the many injustices in his state of Jharkhand that take a toll on his people and community. It was moment that inspired him to dedicate his life to turn into a local activist. He hopes that his video can help others like him begin thinking and acting for themselves.Watch Chunnu’s video here.
Jeetendra Parmar, Madhya Pradesh
The first job interview that Jeetendra Parmar qualified for gave him immense purpose and passion to his life. He is a coordinator working for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers. His work has given him a great insight into how people are held oppressed, he says. Working with Jan Sahas, he has successfully rehabilitated many manual scavengers with the help of his organization, Garima. His work has taught him patience, discipline and perseverance. It is with these skills that he intends to make video on India’s unheard and unseen.
Khirendra Yadav, Chhattisgarh
Khirendra who hails from the strife-ridden ‘red corridor’ region of Bastar is an eccentric renaissance man. He is sculptor, a painter, a street theater artiste and an ex- football player for his district. He is a long distance runner by passion and claims impressive distances and impressive speeds. He is a dalit. The oppression that he experienced and witnessed while growing up now inspires him to help his community fight for their rights. As a theater artiste he works best with awareness programs. His focus is on child rights, women’s right and HIV. His videos, he says, will be an extension of passion for art and activism.
Nirmala Jyothi Ekka, Jharkhand
Nirmala Jyoti Ekka works for the urban dispossessed. As her city of Ranchi sees unprecedented growth the rights of the people living on the margins are in the danger of being run over. But the most vulnerable, she says, are the women. The city is unsafe for them and they are vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. As an activist she has been fighting against this all her life. She now wants to make videos which will do the same. Watch her videos here.
Priyasheela Besra, Jharkhand
Priyasheela is an adivasi and a mother of two. She has chosen to make her own decisions in life rather than being dependant on others. The trials she has faced has only inspired her to become a social activist, fighting for the rights of others. As an IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent from Ranchi district, Jharkhand she wants to report stories dedicated to the brave adivasi women of Jharkhand. Watch Priyasheela’s videos here.
Mohan Bhuiyan, Jharkhand
In a rapidly changing world, there are some communities that struggling to keep their identities intact in trying to keep up. Mohan Kumar Bhuiyan belongs to one such adivasi community who live dangerously perched between the open minefields of Tata, on one side and Central Coalfields, on the other. He and his neighbors have already been given eviction notices and will be thrown out of their homes any day. He believes that as a community his people are losing their identities by being deprived of their land. That their homes have turned into mines has left people lost and disillusioned. Mohan wants to reclaim his community’s sense of being through his videos and wants to use them to fight for their rights. Watch Mohan’s videos here.
Justin Lakra, Jharkhand
Justin Lakra is a simple farmer and firewood seller from the Latehar district of Jharkhand. For years he has been involved in a popular struggle for land rights which have successfully kept the corporates and the state from acquiring his land. The need of the hour, he says, is that his community be more aware of its rights and that the rest of the country and the world need to be aware of their issues. His videos, he feels, will be windows through which his community can look out and the world can look in.Watch Justin’s videos here.
Vrinda Azad, Chhattisgarh
Vrinda Azad is the former Sarpanch – or Chief – of her village, one of the most challenging positions that a woman, a dalit and a social worker can find herself in. She was elected Village Chief after more than a decade as an activist. As Sarpanch, her primary struggle was to bring electricity to her village, a quest that lasted three years. Electricity did come. Today her children study in the bright light of a bulb. But unable to balance the pressures of home and office, Vrinda resigned from office and continued her social work as a part of organizations and individually.
Dina Ganvir, Chhattisgarh
Dina was born and brought up in Kanker district. But fate took her to Kawardha which she embraced as her community. When she first left her house for the field she says that she was horrified at the conditions in which the local adivasis were living in. But Dina persevered. Once a sickly city girl, afraid to venture out alone, she now lives as a single woman in a remote community that has claimed her as one of their own. Her videos highlight the issues of the community that found and embraced her.
Ramjag Gaud, Chhattisgarh
Ramjag from Bastar is another correspondent who operates in the ‘red’ corridor of Chattisgarh. For over 12 years, he has been working on various projects in this sensitive zone with both government and non-government organizations. He has worked on health, education, relief work and woman’s issues. But Ramjag relies on his homegrown instincts. He tells stories of his travels along roads that people are afraid to take. He has defended himself against the state and the insurgents and he has continued walking.
Halomuni Kuardar, Odisha
Halomuni grew up dreaming to change the conditions of the school in her village in Sundergarh district, Odisha. Right after college in 2010, she attended a public hearing to save her village from being evicted to make way for Rungta Mines. It made her see things in a broader perspective. With an eagerness to understand the issue better, she went on to do an internship with BIRSA Mines Monitoring Centre, Ranchi and is now an active member of an anti-mining organisation in her village. She is determined to highlight the real picture of her village and use video as a medium to bring about change.
Ashok Kumar Samal, Odisha
After completing his graduation Ashok Kumar Samal from Cuttack, Odisha struggled to find a job. Most of his peers had given bribes to secure one. Despite his disillusionment, he had an urge to fight the inequality he had faced since childhood and he took up the cause of Dalit rights and gender equality. As an active member of the Dalit rights organisation Ambedkar Lohia Vichar Manch and National Alliance for Women, he has fought for two decades now and aims to use the IndiaUnheard platform to reach out to a national and international audience.
Ranjit Dehury, Odisha
Ranjit Dehury from Dhenkanal district, Odisha, was forced to drop out of school when he was in the 10th grade . But it was his desire for change that found him in the middle of two protests at his workplace. He has now left his job and travels across villages trying to understand and solve problems related to land registration, Public Distribution Systems and sanitation among others. He wants to use the power of community video to hold concerned authorities accountable for their work.
Mamta Patra, Odisha
Mamta Patra from Sambalpur district in Odisha felt the brunt of corruption when her father was arrested in a fake case. Determined to fight this problem, she got involved in the development sector at a young age. These early experiences have set the direction for her life and for the last two years she has been working independently against corruption and for farmer’s rights. She is also the founder member of Kosjit Vikas Sangathan which works towards this goal. Disappointed by the mainstream media’s partiality, Mamta wants to use videos to capture real problems and work towards getting faster impacts.
Saroj Kumar Suna from Bargarh, Odisha has faced social inequality at close quarters. He first experienced caste discrimination when the village barber made excuses to avoid cutting his hair, because he didn’t want to touch the hair of a Dalit. In 2000, he started reading Dalit literature which inspired him to work towards a solution to end this inequality. He is an active member of several local Dalit groups. Experience has taught him that well written letters and articles don’t move the authorities as much as visual documentation does. He is eager to document the human rights violations & other issues around his village using video and work towards changing these conditions.
Lambodar Takri, Odisha
Lambodar Takri belongs to Balangir District, Odisha. Like countless others, being a Dalit has meant facing a lot of discrimination on a day to day basis. Determined to end such treatment he created an organisation for Dalit Students which would help people like him. Lambodar is also extremely passionate about folk culture and is a popular folk singer. Through his videos he wants to empower people and help them take pride in their local culture which he feels is slowly being lost with urbanisation.
Debendra Swain, Odisha
Debendra Swain from Jagatsinghpur district Odisha had led a peaceful life as a farmer in his village and wanted to continue doing just that. His life has taken a different turn as his village finds itself in the midst of a land-acquisition controversy with a steel company. Debendra and his people don’t want a factory; they want their farmlands and their family homes. Through his videos he wants to tell the stories of their resistance and it’s often harsh consequences.
Abhishek Kumar Dash, Odisha
Abhishek Kumar Dash is the India Unheard Community Correspondent from Nuapada district, Odisha. His dream was to become an engineer. Though he enrolled in a B.Sc. program, he was forced to drop out half way through as his family faced dire financial circumstances. He then started and gave up a successful business[JM6] to become a social activist because he felt the need for a stronger leadership which would be able to work out the different issues prevalent in society. He sees video as a tool that can document the problems faced by his people and help them take action.
Gautam Sahu, Odisha
Gautam Sahu is from Kendarapada, Odisha. He has a Master’s degree in Journalism and is now studying Law. He has been involved in a number of organisations from a young age and is currently a volunteer at Nehu Yuva Kendra Sangathan, an organisation that involves rural youth in the process of nation-building. Through the India Unheard platform he wants to document the problems faced by his people on a daily basis so that they appear on the radar of the local officials.
Satya Mahar, Odisha
Satya Mahar in an activist who is involved in a number of movements in his area especially the Niyamgiri Andolan for tribal rights and land. He feels strongly about issues related to tribal, Dalit and farmer’s rights. Rather than being divided along caste and religious lines, he believes that people should be bound by the idea of a common humanity. He feels that alternative media can help him accomplish this goal.
Jayanti Naik, Odisha
Jayanti Naik comes from Keonjhar district in Odisha, an area where the people are heavily dependant on the forest land. That this land is going to be taken over to make way for mines is a matter of great concern for her community[JM9] . She says she will use the skills that she has gained through years of farming to help find a solution to this problem. Through her videos she wants to empower her community and bring their voice to the rest of the world.