Spinning Action Into Words!
Founded in 1994 by the visionary social activist, Sanjoy Ghose, Charkha Development Communication Network stands as an innovative nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the social and economic inclusion of rural marginalized communities. Situated in regions often labeled as 'media dark zones,' these communities frequently endure isolation and possess limited access to information essential for mitigating their socio-economic disparities. Charkha is resolutely devoted to empowering these communities by nurturing their capacity to articulate their concerns at local, state, and national tiers, and facilitate access to the resources required to assert their rights and entitlements.
Our direct engagement with the youth belonging to historically marginalized communities within remote villages focuses on enhancing their leadership skills through information, knowledge, and media literacy. This empowerment enables them to employ diverse media formats to illuminate the challenges they face in socio-economic development, thus amplifying their voices amid media landscapes typically dominated by urban and hegemonic narratives. They recognize and harness their agency to access the fourth pillar of our democracy: the media.
It is to the credit of singularly dedicated individuals who have worked with Charkha over the years – and been enriched by it, in turn – that the network has sustained and grown in the almost three decades of its existence, bringing visibility and development in ‘difficult’ areas where few cares to strive for change.
Enable communities living in remote areas to, through the creative use of media, take responsibility for their own development
To create sustainable two-way communication networks that enable under-served and vulnerable communities to benefit from development mechanisms and advocate for policy changes.
In the year 1980, a young man graduated from Elphinstone a leading college in Bombay (now Mumbai) with stars in his eyes. Schooled at the prestigious Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai, he had excellent grades, an outstanding academic and co-curricular record. At the time, it seemed that all the roads to a successful corporate career were open to him. He had admissions to three of the top management institutes in the country - Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad, Bangalore ( now Bengaluru) and Calcutta (now Kolkata). This young man sprang a surprise on everyone by opting for a nascent institution, IRMA (Institute of Rural Management, Anand) in Gujarat, taking admission in its very first batch. This young man was Sanjoy Ghose and the stars in his eyes were not for his personal success and glory but for the most down-trodden of our society. His sole concern was how to make life better for those who were living on the margins of a development that can very easily bypass them. This concern is what marked Sanjoy's journey as a grassroots social activist guiding all the steps he took towards academic excellence and professional achievements…
Sanjoy Ghose founded Charkha in 1994, giving shape to his dream of an equitable India that uses the democratic power of the media to give its unheard, disadvantaged citizens a voice. Sanjoy’sown vivid, intense writings reflecting the realities of rural India during his years in western Rajasthan with theURMUL Trust and later with AVARDNE in the north-eastern region were well received in the mainstream press of the day. In 1990, he had started a monthly column, Village Voice, in the then-leading daily, The Indian Express.It is in this fertile soil that Charkha came to life. In the early 1990s, India was at the threshold of change, growing in leaps and bounds with a newly liberalized economy. Sanjoy was dismayed at the alarming rate at which the gap between the vibrant, informed ‘India’ and the socio-economically backward, unheard ‘Bharat’ was widening. His belief that many more writers and writings would be needed to highlight the rising disparity led him to rope in other writers and voluntary groups across the social sector. To disseminate the writings thus generated, the dedicated Gandhian put together a modest but efficient channel that he named Charkha, for it was intended to be a platform that would spin action into words. With the buy-in of the editors of all major dailies, Charkha Features began to be carried extensively in newspapers and magazines across India. Social activists thronged the one-room Charkha office housed in a borrowed space in Delhi, keen to have their struggles and campaigns bolstered by media coverage, jubilant at encouraging responses and successes the articles were triggering. In July 1997, the steadily growing but still nascent network was dealt a severe blow with the abduction of Sanjoy by the ULFA in Assam. The editorial team of two in Delhi worked relentlessly in those initial years despite the perpetual shortage of resources; inspired by the dream they had inherited from Sanjoy. Theory of change If the communities residing in the far-flung and conflict-affected areas are enabled to use the media creatively for highlighting their development challenges then they will be better able to become responsible for their own development because direct linkages are likely to establish between them and the Government officials/ like-minded people/ other organizations, thus bridging the gaps between them.