Social & Green Entrepreneurs

Rural News Bulletin, Gaon Ki Awaaz

Team YS
3rd Oct 2011
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Gaon Ki Awaj in conversation with Sunil, founder Gaon Ki Awaaz What is Gaon Ki Awaaz all about?

Gaon Ki Awaaz was inspired by the spread of mobile phone in Indian villages. It presented the opportunity to create a news service that was about villagers and in their language, and which informed them of what was happening in their village and neighbouring villages.

The motivation was to create a rural news and information service that could meet the following objectives:

Create a new medium to transmit news and information

Take news and information to communities that cannot read newspapers because they are illiterate or watch news on TV because of lack of electricity

Give an opportunity to villagers to share their knowledge and obtain information that can improve their lives

Create a medium that villagers living in remote areas could use to inform about social abuses or human rights violations

Create a channel for the government to communicate welfare schemes directly to villagers. So far, only a small number of upwardly mobile villagers benefit from these schemes; the remaining are not even aware of them

Create a self-sustaining interactive news service where every villager is a stakeholder; and redefine news by making information hyperlocal and relevant to villagers.

When and where was Gaon Ki Awaaz launched?

Gaon Ki Awaaz was launched in December 2009 in Rampur-Mathura block of Sitapur district – about 70 km from Lucknow as an academic project of the International Media Institute of India, Noida. It was started with a test group of 20 villagers, which included farmers, educated and uneducated village youth, housewives, mechanics, school teachers and shopkeepers from Rampur-Mathura village. After getting the feedback of these villagers, the number of subscribers was raised to 250 in March 2010. Also the project schedule was increased. The broadcasts since March 2010 go to 250 villagers living in 50 villages and hamlets of the Rampur-Mathura block.

Is the service paid?

The Gaon Ki Awaaz service went paid in July 2010. A villager pays Rs 10 per month to get the service.

How often is the news broad-casted?

The news is broadcasted twice; at 12 noon and at 5 pm. The bulletin is limited to one story from one village and the audio pulse is 30 seconds. The project integrates 5 processes to give a new dimension to the way a mobile phones and the Internet can be integrated.

How does the process of sourcing the news work?

Two village reporters – Divyakar Pratap Singh and Priya Gupta -- were trained in December 2009 to use the MMS-enabled phone to record news in local dialect. They go around the village to collect news and record them as audio bulletins in their phones. The audio bulletins are transmitted by the village reporters as MMS to the mobile phone of Satyendra Pratap, an ex-journalist and from the same village, who works as an Editor for the service and checks facts. The checked reports are MMS-ed to Nodia, where they are transferred to a laptop and converted into .WAV files. The .WAV files are then transmitted to mobile phones of subscribers using an Internet-based outbound Dialer. The broadcast goes as voice call that the villagers can listen. It is in their language, about them and accessible on low-end phones.

What does the news focus on?

The bulletins inform villagers of happenings like thefts, animal strikes, fires, village fairs, weddings, births, deaths, prayer meetings, etc. that has happened in their village or surrounding villages. The bulletins also inform them of health camps, local school and board exams, training/coaching classes being conducted in the village, government directives on employment, health care, farm prices etc. The broadcasts are in Avadhi, the dialect spoken in the area.

Is there any dropout rate?

There is a drop out rate of 2 to 3% every month. But, new subscribers come in. We have been able to keep our subscribers at 250 since July 2010.

Where did you come up with the first prototype of the project?

The project has been incubated by the International Media Institute of India, a journalism institute in Noida. The funding for the project has come from Knight Foundation Grants. Mr Dave Bloss , a Knight International Fellow who helped set up the International Media Institute of India, found the idea interesting. He provided the start up funds from the Knight Grant. The journey so far has been very satisfying. The broadcasts have become an important part of the village life, and more and more villagers want their mobile numbers added to the service.

Awards & Recognition

The Gaon Ki Awaaz has been honoured with the following awards: NASSCOM Social Innovation Honours 2011, Manthan Award South Asia 2010, mBillionth Award South Asia 2010

Do check Gaon Ki Awaaz for further details!

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