The IndiaUnheard network has created many leaders in some of the marginalized communities in the country. These exemplary yet unassuming individuals have not only produced videos focusing on the issues and concerns of their people but they have strived to actively alter the status quo and bring about change. The IndiaUnheard videos are democratic entities where people who live the news make the news. The process of making the videos takes into account and reflects the change it aspires to bring. Sometimes just the fact that the community is participating and speaking out together for a video has been enough to bring about an impact.
In June 2012, when IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Kamal Kishor Purty was shooting for today’s video, he had intended it as a platform in which the villagers of his tribal community would narrate how the officials had yet to deliver the money promised under a welfare scheme for shelter. They would raise their voices and protest for justice. By the time he finished shooting, it was already a video that had brought about change……
Under the Indira Awaas Yojna, the government’s housing welfare scheme for the poor, the villagers of the remote tribal village of Pandrashaali in West Singhbum District, Jharkhand had been promised Rs. 45,000/- each towards building of their houses. They had received the first installment of Rs. 24,000/- and using the money, the people had constructed the walls of their houses. They waited for the second installment which would allow them to build roofs. A whole year passed and the officials at the local Block Office started to play hard to get. Repeated complaints and requests of the people went unheard. The villagers realized that there was corruption underfoot but found that they had nowhere to turn to.
On the verge of giving up all hope, they decided to speak about their issues into Community Correspondent Kamal Kishor’s camera. He had promised then that if they could speak out, he could ensure that their voices and stories will be heard. He assured them that there were hundreds of people out there who would listen to their concerns and who would be in solidarity with their struggles. It is not just a camera, he said. The village would now have its own media. And they would use it to influence the change they desired.
The shooting began. The villagers began to articulate their troubles and their demands. Word spread throughout the village that soon these powerful and discontent voices would move the issue beyond the village, beyond Jharkhand and present it before the world. The officials began to feel the heat. Within 4 days, before Kamal Kishor could extract his footage from his camera and script his closing anchor-piece, the installment due was released. The people rejoiced. Their houses would now be built. They would soon have a roof on their heads. Before they knew it, the process had turned into the desired change.
Though the identity and details of the erring/corrupt official is currently unknown, Kamal Kishor and the people of the village feel that justice was delivered. Kamal Kishor says that not just him but the villagers who participated in the video have found have found a new and surging self-confidence within themselves.
He no longer refers to himself as a ‘man with a camera’. He is his people’s media.
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In recent times, there has been a clampdown on voices of dissent in India. On Gandhi Jayanti, correspondents shared their experiences reporting about issues that may ruffle feathers, and decided that Gandhi would have approved.
Many civil society organisations are questioning the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh.