of citizens from disadvantaged communities are now using video
cameras to report on issues that affect them and their neighbors.
With training from the Video Volunteers, local video producers are
changing the dominant model of media in the country to make it more
democratic and diverse.
Mukesh Rajak, from the eastern
state of Jharkand makes an unlikely activist in India. Born poor and
Rajak faced a life of discrimination with little access to education
and developmental resources. Yet despite not being born into the
“right caste”, Rajak has improved the schools in his village with
the aid of a video camera.
“I had done
on this school reporting that the teachers employed were taking
bribes from students for teaching and conducting examinations,”
explained Rajak proudly. “I showed it to the Block Education
Officer. She saw this video and came to visit the village school. She
demoted the headmaster of the school and now no teacher asks for
bribes. Students are happy that they can now study for free”.
Rajak produced the video as a
community correspondent for “India
a relatively new community news service. Launched in February 2010,
India Unheard has community
correspondents in every state in India reporting on issues ranging from poverty and
human rights to local culture.
“IndiaUnheard” is one of
several citizen journalism projects in the country established by
a U.S.-based international organization that trains people from
disadvantaged communities to create their own locally relevant and
locally produced media. In India, Video Volunteers operates an
intensive training in all aspects of video production for aspiring
correspondents for “IndiaUnheard” and others interested in video
Journalists from all walks of life
Through its training efforts in India, Video
Volunteers has created “the largest, most diverse network” of
community video producers anywhere in the world, according to Video
Volunteers Communication Manager Siddarth Pillai.
“Nearly 200 villagers and
slum dwellers—former diamond polishers, rickshaw drivers and day
laborers – are currently working as community producers”, Pillai
said in an email interview. Pillai explained that more than 50
percent of these producers are women, and also come from communities
“most affected by human and civil rights violations”, namely
Dalits, Muslims and Tribal people.
After training, some of the
producers work for Video
Volunteers’ Community Video Units. These
locally owned and managed units are set up in areas that rarely
receive coverage from the mainstream media. They produce
community-specific news and documentaries.