In a nation of over a billion citizens, what does the idea of social justice really mean? Do the most marginalized exercise their right to be equal participants in development processes? What does it take to feel empowered? Does the urban, educated India understand – or even care about – how India in her villages lives?
This one thought moved a young urban Indian who, having spent much of his professional life as a social activist in the heart of rural India, recognized the need to bridge the divide, by simply sharing the reality he saw – viewed from the ground up. Sanjoy Ghose wrote extensively about the triumphs and travails of village life. His writings generated tremendous interest among newspapers and magazines. During his years with the URMUL Trust in Lunkaransar Village in Bikaner, Rajasthan, the Indian Express, a leading national daily, launched a successful monthly column named ‘Village Voice’. The concept of tapping the power of the media to reflect unheard voices – a novel concept far ahead of its time – had taken root.
Over time, Sanjoy recognized the potential of writings to highlight the development issues that needed to be addressed; and the limitations of his being the sole voice doing so. If he could write on behalf of the people, he reasoned, so could they themselves. Discussions with senior media persons from the national dailies showed promise. Institutionalizing the idea seemed the best way forward – and Charkha, spinning action into words, was born.
That was on October 24, 1994.