Community Correspondents use many strategies to escalate an issue by increasing the scale or reach of their videos and finding ways to put pressure on government functionaries.
Community Correspondents use the films they make to attempt to create a change in their communities. This usually happens at a very micro-level: they will take one video that they have made and show it to one local authority to get a problem fixed. This is often the only way for a newly trained Correspondent, or a Correspondent with limited mobility (often a woman), to achieve impact. So this mini-screening is immensely important to VV’s model of hyperlocal change.
But with so many thousands of videos being produced, isn’t it more efficient to go to an official with multiple videos rather than one? And isn’t it sometimes important to lobby higher officials? And don’t Correspondents sometimes have to make some real noise to get an impact? The answer is, yes. Below, we’ll explain some of the other advocacy tactics Correspondents and their VV mentors employ, to get a greater impact:
1.Community Correspondents hold district-level events to screen their videos to a wider audience
A District Event is one of the strategies that the Correspondents will sometimes use to connect to a larger local audience, mobilize a wider community and generate interest and support for the issue. This strategy works really well if the issue that the Correspondent is covering is widely spread and resonates with the people and the correspondent is able to get government functionaries and decision makers to attend. A packed district event with district government officials, media and prominent members of civil society in attendance will almost always guarantee progress on or even straight out resolution of the issue. The crowd affirming the presence of similar problems in their areas prompts the officials to take action. The Correspondent would often also invite other officials who have helped her in the past to resolve issues and felicitate them to encourage the other present officials to help.
A usual district even screening would start with the CC presenting her work to establish her credentials and seriousness. These would usually include videos of her earlier impacts. Then she would go on to screen the video/s of the issue that needs solving. Ideally, the officer to whom the video’s “Call to Action” is addressed is present and would take note. Read more about the district events.
15 such events have been held in West Bengal and 27 in Jharkhand.
- Advocacy team meets senior officials
Another strategy that we use to resolve long-standing issues is having our advocacy team meet senior officials in State Commissions and Ministries to establish a relationship with them and push them to intervene to solve issues that are not getting resolved at the local level. These meetings are often preceded or followed up by official letters and phone calls. The letters would compile data from multiple cases under a theme and will often have links of video evidence that we have collected. We use this strategy mostly in case of issues that are wide spread and affect more than one district. Members of our advocacy team met officials in different State Commissions and Ministries to establish working relationships with them. They presented (or followed up on) letters that compile information from multiple cases on a similar issue.
30 meetings have been held and more than 100 letters sent to various departments in the last couple of years. We are enabling large-scale impact on issues. We have reported about 270 videos produced by our correspondents to various government departments. This has led to ground level change in 72 instances, others are underway.
- These 270 videos are registered as about 10 complaints at the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC), Bihar Public Grievance Redressal System (PGRS) among others.
- For example, working with the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) resolved 40 cases in total. 16 cases in Bihar, 15 in Jharkhand and 9 cases in West Bengal. Plus several others are underway.
- Correspondents in Bihar were trained to use the Bihar Public Grievance Redressal System (PGRS) which enables anyone to file a complaint or query about entitlement violations and guarantees them a hearing. 61 such cases were filed by Correspondents. 26 cases have been resolved to result in improved access to water, the appointment of staff at health centers, people getting their pensions, villages getting electricity, etc.
- 13 videos were reported to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), of these 5 have been solved.
- We write to independent commissions
Writing letters to independent commissions such as National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) is a great strategy for putting additional pressure on government officials in tricky individual cases. The national commissions, though usually without any executive or judicial powers, hold influence by virtue of their national standing and reputation. We have found that a letter from such an independent commission would expedite action from government officers. These national commissions are free of local influence and state political compulsions, which state officials ordinarily aren’t, so our experience has been that they would write in support of your issue if you were to send them a detailed letter with all the information and supporting evidence. Letters from these commissions add a lot of weight to a Correspondent's application.