I'm back in Auckland again for work, and have been catching up on emails over the Easter weekend break. A couple of emails to the Sarai reader list have led me to read about workers in Gurgaon (an industrial city with many call centres near Delhi) and watch videos from Indian women in villages producing their own video magazines.
The first email was a blog post by Shivam Vij called "Who is a Bairagi?" asking questions about OBC (other backward classes) in India and do people there really know who these people are and how they live. The post was from a journalist who sometimes writes for Tehelka (the people's paper). The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has lists of names / castes for people classified as OBC. The Delhi list can be found here and full list for Indian regions found here. There's even a Questionnaire for consideration of requests for Inclusion and complaints of Under-Inclusion of backward classes in Central list - criteria such as Social, Economic and Educational.
Another email to sarai reader list highlighted a new law resource in India - Between Law and Justice: A Law and Society Reader, a DVD database with (so far) over 400 articles on topics such as :
1. Legal histories
2. Constitutional promises and perils
3. Siting struggles: human rights and social justice
4. Roti, kapadda aur makaan: law, livelihood and development
5. Supreme, yet fallible
6. Crime and punishment
7. Access to justice
9. Edge of desire: law, gender and sexuality
10. In a minority
11. Green justice
12. Media law & free speech
14. Life of law amidst globalisation
15. Legal education
16. Interdisciplinary challenges
17. International law
Another email was a promo for a new documentary :
"INDIA UNTOUCHED - Stories of a People Apart" is a new documentary directed by Stalin K. and produced by Drishti. Drishti is a a collective of film & documentary makers in India.
Video Volunteers is part of the Creative Visions foundation and aims to setup Community Video Units and train local Community Video Producers to produce video magazines based on local issues which are screened monthly in 25 villages reaching more than 10000 people in these communities. Members of the communities speak about what matters to them and the CVU allows them to have a voice which is then shared with other members of the community.
http://videovolunteers.org/videogallery.php - to view the videos
India's Frontline magazine has a story about Video Volunteers.
The impact of social change media
Video empowers the poor with leadership and critical thinking skills and makes them partners in the development process. Even non-literates can learn to make videos in a matter of months. Here are some success stories from NGOs around the world:
* Bangladesh: Village women submitted video testimonies of the domestic abuse they have suffered and avoided intimidation in the village court.
* India: Rickshaw drivers made articulate video pleas that convinced local banks to give them loans for the first time.
* Mexico: Merely the site of a camera and fear of being caught caused police to withdraw from an illegal raid in Chiapas.
* Nigeria: A cholera outbreak was less severe in villages where a video on clean water was shown.
* Egypt: A group of women abandoned the practice of genital mutilation when they heard the call for change from community members' video interviews.
Other related organisations helping to teach people video making skills in India are :
Barefoot Workshops, a not-for-profit media and music based educational organization where adults and youth are taught video, photography, music, and art as a way to document their surroundings, make change in the world, and most importantly, make change within themselves.
Velugu is the largest poverty project in the state working in over 860 mandals in 22 districts and aims to reach 29 lakhs (1 lakh = 100 000) of the poorest of rural poor. Velugu enhances the poor's capacities to manage their resources and helps access public services. SERP's uniqueness is in the blend of professionals and trained activists working at the grassroots. SERP has committed professionals, Community Coordinators who are working with the poor communities. It also creates the necessary critical mass by building the social capital through facilitating the identification of community activists and trains them as barefoot professionals, as paravets, botanists, social activists etc. This cadre of rural development professionals are managed by the mandal federations.
Creative Visions - The Creative Visions Foundation was inspired by the life of Dan Eldon -- artist, adventurer and activist - who was killed in 1993 while covering the conflict in Somalia as a photojournalist for Reuters News Agency. He was 22. Founded by his family and friends, CVF is a publicly supported 501 (c) (3) organization that supports "creative activists" like Dan -- social entrepreneurs who use media, technology and the arts to create awareness of environmental, social or humanitarian issues -- and inspire positive change.