January 14, 2013 01:20 IST | The Hindu
B. S. Satish Kumar
P Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu, at an interaction in Bangalore on Sunday. Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar
This online platform will have audio, video, print and still photos on rural life and issues
Did you know that there is a community called Khalasi in Kerala, which has specialised in hydraulics for millenniums? This community has traditionally helped in moving newly-constructed ships from the dry docks to the sea without damaging the vessel’s base. Then there is a little known tribe in Assam known as Apathenis, whose members plough the land with their feet as they believe that it is a crime to use implements against Mother Earth. These are just a couple of facts on the diversity and complexity of life in rural India that are set to find a place in the “People’s archive of rural India,”– an online platform being launched by noted development journalist and The HinduRural Affairs Editor P. Sainath. The platform, which is expected to commence operations on an experimental basis from June, is an effort by the Magsaysay award-winning journalist who has reported from the length and breadth of rural India to document for posterity the myriad forms of labour and production in rural India.
Disclosing this at an interaction programme jointly organised in Bangalore on Sunday by Avadhimag.com, Abhinava and Karnataka Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, Mr. Sainath said the documentation in the proposed archive would be in four different mediums — audio, video, print and still photos, of which his own extensive collection will form an important part.
Pointing out that rural India has both great beauty and extreme ugliness, he said both faces would be presented in the proposed archive. He showed excerpts from documentaries on a potter in Bengal, three different schools of Kalaripayattu from Kerala, a dance form from Kumaon, and the lives of Kutchi potters from Gujarat who have made Dharavi in Mumbai their home. “This is not just documentary, but documentary journalism,” he said. The focus in the documentaries would be on the forms of labour rather than the actual artistic product, and moreover, the artist/artisan/rural producer would speak directly to the video camera. He said 15 small cameras had been given to “video volunteers” to capture whatever they think was interesting. He also announced that any person who had an idea or a subject that suited the proposed archive could contribute by filming/recording it.
“You can shoot even with your cell phones or still cameras that have video option. Only thing is that you have to get in touch with us to know our guidelines. If you do not want to take up filming or writing, you can even share the idea with us and we will do the rest,” he said. Explaining why he zeroed in on the idea of launching such an archive, especially for rural India, he said: “Rural India is the most complex part of the planet as it has 833 million people, 400 living languages besides innumerable number of dialects and occupations.”
Mr. Sainath said he chose the online platform mode instead of a physical archive as the latter was a costly option. The archive will not accept any direct funding by the government or corporate houses.
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