The day is not far away when the illiterate tribal inhabitants of Adilabad get to ‘reporting’ news from their surroundings. The pilot project of CGNet Swara, a mobile telephony-based news service that has been launched in five tribal mandals in the district, is bound to catch the imagination of local people as voice-based audio blogging suits remote and backward areas perfectly.
“It is in remote areas where neither the conventional media nor the internet are accessible that experiment like Swara is helpful to people. They can air their grievances or talk on any issue over this voice-based portal made accessible through mobile phones,” says Chandresh Kumar Meravi, a tax specialist with Thompson Reuters at Hyderabad.
Server at Vizag
“Our trained journalists will connect villagers with the server now based at Visakhapatnam where their voice will be converted into a transcript. An edited version of the transcript will subsequently be uploaded on the web for authorities or any other person to access,” explains Kumra Vittal Rao, regional coordinator of Dhan Foundation, an NGO serving in the agency areas of Adilabad.
The proposition will be highly attractive as the medium gives scope for the news ‘source’ to talk in his own language.
Trained moderators like Sidam Madhukar will edit the message received from villagers to make it sensible enough for uploading on the website.
Madhukar, a Gond from Indervelli mandal, is a researcher in Economics at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU). “I edit all messages that arrive in Gondi,” he says on his role in the scheme of things.
At the cutting edge are the seven journalists, local tribal girls, who will be responsible for selection of issues, gathering news and views and feeding the content to the portal.
“The cell phone interviews with people in villages gets directly recorded in the server so the job is easy,” observes Mesram Parameshwari, the Swara journalist from Keslapur in Indervelli mandal as she talks of her work.
Parameshwari’s knowledge of Hindi, Telugu, Marathi and of course, her mother tongue Gondi, makes her task easy.
“We even record folk songs,” she says, pointing out towards exposing of culture, one of the important aspects of the experiment.
Villagers can air their grievances or talk on any issue over the voice-based portal made accessible through mobile phones