Google News Initiative: Local Heroes

Google News Initiative: Local Heroes

When was this canal built? Around 20 years ago. Since then, how much water
have you received? The water never arrived. There are only a handful of journalists
in Banda and Chitrakoot of the Bundelkhand region but there’s a platform called
Khabar Lahariya which is exclusively for
female journalists. I am one of their journalist
and my name is Geeta. India is an agrarian dominant country with farmers making up
80 percent of the population. The farmers, particularly in Bundelkhand,
are facing many hardships which has led them to hold protest rallies
and strikes for their rights. We want the government to declare drought
in the Bundelkhand region. During the protests,
I met farmers from Naugawan village who told me that their village was hit
by a severe water shortage their fields were running dry
and they couldn’t cultivate the land. The main reason we covered this story was because it was the season to grow crops
and it hadn’t rained and to add to the farmers’ distress the government wasn’t releasing water
through the canal which was long overdue. These news stories are not covered by
mainstream publications. But only Khabar Lahariya goes to these villages to talk to the locals and reports their plight. I am reporting from
the village of Naugawan today. The villagers are complaining that the canal here was built
roughly 20 years ago but they have never received water. The way we report is a style that is
hard to find in mainstream media where on-ground reporters
go to remote locations to cover stories. The ones who are actually reporting events and not merely writing opinion pieces
from behind a desk. What’s the condition of the farms?
What is troubling you? There’s no water for farming without water, what can one do? The local authorities are aware of the issues. They just don’t take any action and
assume nobody will ever question them. Khabar Lahariya’s forte lies in its ability to question the authorities and those in power and to persuade them to fulfill their duties. Technology is a great enabler. With technology, despite being in Delhi we are able to positively impact
those remote villages. It was only after we reported the story that the authorities took action and water was finally released into the canal. The canal was quite old and damaged,
as a result water was not reaching the fields. The repairs are done and
the water has now reached their fields. Do you think our story made an impact? Yes, it has greatly benefitted us. We feel so much relief. What do the villagers have to say?
Are they happy? Yes, we are happy now. It felt really good to see that the farmers who once seemed hopeless,
now had smiles on their faces. At Khabar Lahariya, we call it
everyday stories of everyday people. That is what news is. News is not just the headlines
of big newspapers but a hand pump,
which is broken in a village which is 50 kilometres away
from the district headquarters. That’s also news. And just as important news. We are journalists
in every sense of the word although people often say journalism is not meant for women. But why can’t women be journalists? A woman is no less than a man and
can do everything that he can.


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