Skill Building Sessions conducted by Charkha in Darbhanga District in North Bihar have brought together local youth groups, media persons and college students, particularly women, who have been taught the necessary communication skills to write about the concerns of the marginalized communities in remote parts of these districts, focusing on the need for better health and education facilities, basic infrastructure and connectivity.
Exploratory visits to the select flood-prone blocks in Sitamarhi and Darbhanga Districts helped the Charkha team identify the most pressing concerns of the rural disadvantaged, as prioritized by the people themselves: which necessitated discussions with different stakeholder groups, viz. women and youth groups, academicians, college students, civil society groups, Government officials and media persons at the State and District levels.
The grassroots’ based understanding thus gained formed the foundation on which the initiative was designed and established in a manner that ensured that those involved saw value in joining the efforts without any promise of individual gain, yet were energized to sustain the changes brought by their efforts.
The Skill Development Sessions were designed keeping in mind the issues to be highlighted, the appropriate medium for dissemination of information; and the tools of communication to be adopted and local support by media, using Mainstream Print Media and Community Media such as Wall Magazines and Newsletters.
These groups are presently being oriented to the establishment of an Information Network where details of development opportunities for the most marginalized can be accessed and used for dissemination using Community Media.
Charkha’s Editorial Team encourages the generation of issue based writings from the region on an ongoing process, emphasizing the topical concerns of the flood-prone communities: community-based preparation and coping mechanisms, due emphasis on the need for a robust health service education of the lower castes, social inclusion in an acutely caste-sensitive society. These articles are appropriately edited, translated and disseminated to national and regional print media as well as web portals through Charkha’s Trilingual Feature Services in English, Hindi and Urdu.
The writings are sent to selected regional and national publications in a bid to influence policy makers and improve the effectiveness of state development efforts.
Given the challenging gender bias within which women are expected to operate, concerted efforts are being made to ensure that there is a consistent gender balance among those involved with the initiative, so that the efforts are enriched by a balanced perspective towards communities’ issues and inherent strengths.
A Women Writers’ Group comprising college students of MRM Girls College in Darbhanga has come together to explore the rural blocks of Darbhanga District and are writing regularly on the development issues faced by the disadvantaged rural communities. A Satellite Center has been created within their college premises and the core group is being taught how to operate and expand the Communication & Information Network thus created. Information on the rights and entitlements of the rural disadvantaged communities is also being shared through Charkha’s Central Resource Centre to enable wide local dissemination.
More details of activities conducted in these districts in the recent years are available at the following links to Charkha’s e-newsletter: