Kabita, a student who lives in Kanakchori Village in Debgarh District Odisha struggles with her school workload as she is unable to study in the evenings.
The absence of electricity in this village has left many a student exasperated. Community Correspondent Dasarati reports on the failure of the Biju Gram Jyoti Yojana, Odisha’s main rural electrification scheme.
His video along with several others will form the evidence for an RTI application (Right to Information) being filed by IndiaUnheard Community Correspondents asking why the scheme has not delivered the promised electricity to families living below the poverty line.
Call to Action: Please call Mr Surendra Chandra Pradhan, the Block Development officer on 08895450900 and ask him to ensure that Kabita and her friends receive the electricity they are owed.
Dashrathi works with villages spread across 100 kilometres in Deogarh. Soon after his graduation in Social Work, Dashrathi found it difficult to begin a career in the development sector and that’s when he found VV knocking at his door. Since then, he has made videos on farmers’ rights, especially on issues like irrigation, insurance subsidy, Minimum Support Prices, and how the tiff between central and the state government has been affecting farmers’ lives.
With more than 250 farmer suicides in Bargarh district in two years due to debt or failed crops, it became absolutely important for Dashrathi to promote mixed farming methods of cultivation which proved to be prosperous in his district. His contribution has enabled the state of Odisha to collect and conserve 1000-1300 varieties of organic seeds.
Dashrathi Behera is an activist from Deogarh district, Odisha, and is currently associated with Desi Beej Suraksha Manch, a platform working for farmers’ rights and agricultural techniques. They motivate farmers to take up practices which will eliminate the use of fertilisers and pesticides in order to prevent diseases associated with them, thereby promoting a healthy lifestyle. Endorsing a poison-free cultivation, pushing the idea of organic farming for at least self-consumption if not commercial purposes.
“I really enjoy making videos on health, education, art and culture or any issue that needs immediate attention. I observed how the mainstream media does not cover any rural local news. In contrast, my videos have successfully engaged with a lot of people from the locality. People are also frank about sharing their views and opinions with me. I don’t pose like the stereotypical journalist, the motive is to gather information and make it available to the masses, these videos are on the issues that surround us to generate awareness. However, there is resistance both by people and political groups and they ask me the reason of my visit and what I will do with these videos; it takes time to develop trust.” says Dashrathi.
Makadiya Sai Basti village is a habitat to 60 Adivasi families with just one tube well functioning in order to access drinking water, Behera’s video coverage on the issue caught the attention of Public Health Engineer and the target officer promptly responded to the community’s plight.
These videos, as Dashrathi believes, have a very high degree of visual impact transcending what verbal awareness creates. It leaves an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of the people, encouraging them to share ideas, opinions and discussions, and also becoming an imminent tool of education.
When the leading paper manufacturing company JK Paper Limited set up a mill in Rayagada district, Odisha, people were asked to give up traditional farming and plant eucalyptus trees in order to cater to their vested interest. This lead to a loss of 70 varieties of organic seeds.
Advocating sustainable and loan-free farming, Dashrathi decided to intervene in the matter and made a video about the same. His video on sustainable mixed farming won accolades and he was felicitated at the Samvaad Film Festival organised by TATA Steel and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. His film also won an award at the prestigious CMS Vatavaran Film Festival, in 2017.
“VV is the medium through which I have made my presence felt in the community and I have managed to earn a name for myself, these people acknowledge my work. VV has made me stand to their expectations and my family. I have been able to find a new Dashrathi in myself. I feel amazing! All of this has made me gain so much personally as well. Today, I have a house built on 600 sq. feet. of land. All my dreams have been fulfilled!”
An extremely motivated Behera aims to utilise the visual form to bring out the atrocities faced by the people of his community, and to make these stories reach the majority of the of people in the country.