We are aware of the three pillars in Indian Democracy , namely the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary, but not the fourth one namely the Media, which plays a crucial role .
It keeps a bird's eye view at the State and Central Level and acts like a watch dog to the various political parties and their programmes, further informing and educating the masses about them.
A career in the Media has become more glamorous and equally lucrative for the youth of today. Media can be divided into three parts. The Electronic Media, the Social Media and the Print Media. All of them play a vital role in a Democracy where they watch the ruling Government closely and highlight the achievements, aims, and objectives as well as its shortfalls.
However, there are few people from the same field who make a huge difference to the society and whose hunger to serve the people and the society separates them from the rest. They share a different perspective and have incredible confidence to do something in life and to bring a positive change within the society.
With this vision and zest, in 2007, a group of young women who hail for the remote village of Ramlila Gachi on the banks of the Gandak River in Muzzafarpur District of Bihar started a community news programme 'Appan Samachar' (Our News) that covers issues affecting villagers in their everyday life.
A well thought out plan which they designed themselves for their empowerment has been an inspiration for all. Khushboo Kumari, Anita Devi, Rubi and Rinku Kumari share the same aspiration for change. Mahatma Gandhi once said "Be the change, you want to see in the world." These girls are the shining examples of the very thought and are sending out positive waves not only in Bihar but throughout the entire country.
They have been on a continuous endeavour for bringing about positive change within the society and the journey continues. There have been a lot of well-wishers as well as motivators to push them and stand by them in their difficult times. One of them being Santosh Sarang, a local social activist and journalist who brought the group together. "They are the daughters of farmers and labourers, have no expertise in handling a video camera, or writing news scripts, selecting stories, anchoring or any media-related work.
Many were in schools when the programme was started," shares a proud Sarang who has today handed over all responsibilities of the group to the young women. When the idea was being conceived, it was difficult to convince not only their parents but also the girls themselves, who were unaware of the power of media.
The girls today have completed their Bachelors and Masters and are living their dreams. Appan Samachar highlights and works on various aspects especially Women Empowerment, Environmental issues, Child Marriage and issues related to Village Panchayat. "They decide what goes up on the channel - they discuss new story ideas, choose their subjects, shoot and edit," adds Sarang, Founder of Appan Samachar.
He further added that this community Programme runs with the help of some locals and these girls handle things like scripting and camera on their own. They use a normal handy cam and compile news in a 25 min format which is further presented once a week at 'haats' (weekly markets). "We hire a generator to supply power for the projector and other equipment," shares Amritanj Indivar, coordinator of Appan Samachar. Their stories highlight issues pertaining to the society which the main stream media fails to address. The positive result which is quite evident is that they have been a shining example and inspiration to many girls in the village who fear doing something in life, but are now aware about their rights.
Appan Samachar's work is not limited to only covering stories but also ensuring impact on the ground. In the last few years, the team has moved from merely covering issues to demanding change on the ground. They have been successful in exposing on how quality was being compromised with while constructing the middle school in the village. Apart from this they have been able to highlight several issues at the village level. The team has also bagged the Citizen Journalist Award from IBN 7.It has also helped their village make a mark on the international map, with reporters from BBC, German Television and Al Jazeera documenting their work that has been shared all over the national network as well as in global circuits.
In the year 2008, the team of Appan Samachar got an opportunity to gather news of a visit of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in a Mega Camp during Kosi floods and they also covered a programme where the late President and Missile man Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam had participated. These two opportunities were great moments in their life.
It was a small idea that led the girls and their entire team on the path of empowerment, creating an identity for themselves at different levels. While highlighting the voices of the socially marginalized communities, they helped change the perception of the village towards girls and women. The Charkha Development Communication Network feels that we have lots to learn from this small team of girls who have mapped their village and the country at a global level.
The views expressed in the article are of Syed Aneesul Haq.