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NGO Performs in City to Bring About Social Change in Villages

CGNet Swara was initially an experiment started out in 2004 from Chattisgarh, where they attempted to address the problems of local villagers in central India. They were keen on creating a new form of media such that, the grievances of people in villages in the most remote areas would find its way to journalists, policy, makers and activists.

How the System Works

Ideally, if someone has a problem, they have to wait for a journalist to cover their story. CGnet Swara has addressed this by creating a medium where you can record your story in your own language and send it, then CGnet Swara translates it and sends it across directly to those who can change the situation. For example, Jitan Ram an adivasi from Salkheta village in Chattisgarh was able to directly report to officers through his Swara report about the road work that was sanctioned but never happened, and his problems were directly addressed to.

Cause of the Invention

“We realized that adivasis can be trained to register complaints, but sometimes their complaints get trivialized. But if people like you and me make calls, officials will be pressurized to acting,” said Chaudhary.

The initiative was the brainchild of Shubhranshu Chaudhary, a journalist born and brought up in Koriya District, Chattisgarh, where there was a huge disparity between people, the administration and the government. This was not only a result of the power equation and hierarchy, but also arose from the language barrier. While the initiative was launched five years ago, it is only recently that the group began visiting urban areas to spread the message. They will be performing in Mumbai till mid-September.

“Most officials did not understand what tribal said, and people were unable to voice grievances. They started befriending Maoists as they knew the language, but it did not help solve problems of food, water and shelter. I wanted to devise a communication system that would be free and solve the issues of distance and language for the people. Thus Swara was born,” said Chaudhary.

Method of Spreading Awareness

A group of Gond adivasis, from Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, are performing in the city to spread an initiative. Through street plays and traditional dances, the group is spreading the initiative “Chattis se Trisath”, that emphasizes on looking at each other rather than looking away, and hopes to bridge the communication barrier between urban and rural India.

The whole project did not turn into a success story overnight. They saw many hiccups and failures, but with this new concept of going to the villagers and using puppet shows dance and drama, is working for them. “We don’t have a full answer yet, but the response is good and we hope to do this again soon,” said Shubhranshu.

The Impact

Over the years, the initiative helped solve various problems, from basic demands for a hand pump, to major issues like not getting pension. People from all walks of life called officials, requesting them to act on complaints.

After having performed in villages, the group is now visiting institutions across Mumbai, urging people through traditional songs, dance and puppet shows to make calls for social change. “We want to bridge the barrier of language and distance, so that the world is a better place for tribal in the remotest parts of India,” said Pawan Satyarthi, group leader at Swara.

Concluding,  selections of stories are posted as audio tracks on the CGNet Swara website, together with written translations in Hindi and English to make them accessible to the mainstream media in India and abroad. Stories are also shared on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, in addition to being published on CGNet Swara’s blog.

It isn’t just news and current events that CGNet Swara is disseminating: The calls coming in are full of stories, poems, songs, recipes, and herbal remedies as well, creating a growing sense of community.

[Image Atrribute : Unsplash]
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