For a relatively new and audacious venture, one of the ways we understand that what we do matters to people is when it creates real change in the world or receives recognition.
Want to take a moment here to share with you all some of the stories that have done this for PARI.
The last post – and a bridge too far
The poignant plight of the villagers of Bhanoli Gunth (also known as Bhanoli Sera) in Pitthorgarh, UP where the lack of a post office meant that villagers had to wait for a month to receive their letters, often. 69 years after independence, the idea of Mohan Chandra Joshi calling up the post office to ask them to hold his brother’s recruitment letter to the Army caught popular imagination and indignation. He did it not to prevent the letter reaching and providing his brother with a coveted Army job, but to ensure that the letter got to his brother on time. He then personally went and collected it from Almora, 70 kilometers away. The story went viral on social media immediately on publishing and was shared by several prominent handles as something needing addressing (Nikhil Wagle, Rajdeep Sardesai and too many more to name, but our gratitude to them all). Union Minister for Communication and Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad took keen interest in the matter. Within 4 days of the article being published, Pitthorgarh finally had its own post office.
Now you eat it, now you don’t
Sweta Daga’s story from the forests of Panarwa in Rajasthan is an eye opener and wake up call on rapidly disappearing indigenous wild foods in the wake of urbanization and increasing complexities in ownership of forest resources.
On reading this story on the PARI website, Shawan Ali of Rajasthan Grameen Aajeevika Vikash Parishad, a Govt. of Rajasthan organisation working with rural women approached Rohit Jain, of Banyan Roots, an organic store and farmer’s collective credited in this story. RGAVP has their presence all over Rajasthan having more than 39,000 SHGs, including in the Panarwa forest area with more than 150 SHGs. The women members (approximately 1500) are mostly forest dwellers and quite likely among those losing access to nutritious wild foods as described in the story. He proposed collaboration in order to work towards betterment of the community.
Making history, heading for a hundred
This charming story of a girls school close to turning a century old meanders through its history and present with photos of registers from when it began, written in elegant calligraphy and barefoot but spirited students of today. Purusottam Thakur won a Laadli Media and Advertising Award (2014-15) “For his unique story on a girls’ educational institute”.
Purusottam had been a PARI fellow in 2015.
Weaves of Maheshwar
“Weaves of Maheshwar” film by Nidhi Kamath & Keya Vaswani was awarded the Silver Lotus (Rajat Kamal) for the Best Promotional Film at the 63rd National Film Awards 2016. This film brings forth the challenges as well as triumph of the weavers of Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh who brought about a revival of the gorgeous Maheshwari handloom saris. In an age when handloom weavers face existential threats to their craft, this revival resulted in the migration of over 200 weavers to Maheshwar between 2012 and 2015.
People’s Archive of Rural India
And of course, PARI as a whole got the Praful Bidwai Memorial Award for journalism. Here is a more casual narration of the same event.
Not at all bad for a new organization, yes?