Tech turns Indian villagers into citizen journalists

Villagers have become citizen journalists in central India’s Chhattisgarh state
Tech turns Indian villagers into citizen journalists

A form of mobile technology called CGNet Swara, developed by a former journalist, gives tribal and indigenous groups a chance to communicate with each other, the rest of the country and the outside world about the issues affecting their communities. 

“There’s no power supply where we live and we’re forced to live in the dark. It is very dangerous as it is a remote forest area. We have appealed to officials many times but no action has been taken so far,” was the report on CGNet Swara from Lavlesh Kumar Adivasi, from the village of Virpur in Chhattisgarh’s neighboring state Madhya Pradesh.

He said: “No one is ready to listen to our problems. The mainstream media pays no attention to our plight. Our problems don’t concern them.”

That’s why he turned his hopes towards CGNet Swara, a community-based platform that gets news from local villagers by turning their mobile phones into a way to send and receive reports, with the help of a server hosted in India’s IT hub of Bangalore. 

The system is activated by the user leaving a missed call to a designated number, which then phones them back, allowing them to record their messages; usually of daily problems they face in rural and remote areas of the state. 

All messages are translated into four languages: Gondi, Chhattisgarhi, Kurruk — the main tribal languages of the state — and Hindi, by a group of volunteers trying to establish the first community news outlet in these languages.

The project is the brainchild of former journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary, who wants it to become a way for alienated communities to connect to the rest of India. 

“The tribal people we work with in Central India have very limited connectivity with the outside world. They don’t have electricity. There are limited numbers of roads in the area but mobile phones are readily available,” Choudhary told Anadolu Agency. “So that becomes the only way for them to exchange information with the outside society.”

The technology is designed to be used by anyone with a simple mobile and CGNet Swara teams regularly organize training sessions for local people.  

- Advertisement -
The Changing Face of Rural India