An ambassador of Ahmedabad-based NGO Video Volunteers, film actor Abhay Deol will launch India Unheard, a Community News Service on March 27, Saturday in the city. Abhay will also visit Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK) in Nani Devti village in Sanand where the training of India Unheard’s first batch of 30 community correspondents is going on.
Talking about the initiative, Deol said, "Video Volunteers has been building a movement based on the idea that the underprivileged in India have a right to a voice and to express themselves creatively. India Unheard Community News Service is one step closer to realize that goal. India Unheard aims to create a network of rural/slum-based activists across India who can report on grassroots development and human rights issues within their communities."
Slated to be operational from April, India Unheard has 29 activists representing some of the most marginalised communities from 24 Indian states. The activists, currently being trained as Community Correspondents, are committed to engagement in social issues. After undergoing intensive training where they learn all aspects of production and storytelling, correspondents will start reporting on grass root issues such as Caste and Identity, Conflicts, Corruption, Development, Displacement, Infrastructure, Gender, Health, RTI and so on. The stories will be told from a perspective that only a community member can capture – the perspective of one who has lived through these issues.
"We want to strengthen the connection between valuable community produced content and major television outlets. In the past, our community-produced content has been placed on several television outlets. Such content not only democratize the media, but also help the television outlets play a more pro-active role in strengthening people's voice. However, one-off projects do not create sustainability. Therefore with India Unheard, we hope to create partnerships through which content can be distributed on a regular basis," said Stalin K, founder director of Video Volunteers.
According to Brian Conley, Program Director of India Unheard, "The content produced by India Unheard’s Community Correspondents will be featured through an online channel which is a unique platform for news and personal stories generated entirely by the poor."
Community Correspondents will use multimedia techniques, especially social media techniques such as Twitter, SMS, blogs, and crowdfunding to build a real connection between themselves and others passionate about grass root issues and looking to drive change.