What can a ‘rural journalist’ with a global vision do? The People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) has the answer to this.
P. Sainath, who has been a journalist focussing on rural affairs in India for the past three decades and is a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award for journalism thought of a new concept for archiving every day lives in the villages of India.
At the Press Meet for the launch of PARI’s website (https://ruralindiaonline.org/) at C.P.R. Environmental Centre on December 17, 2014, P. Sainath informed that the website tries to bring the everyday lives of everyday people to the outside world. The website aims to record the lives, arts, issues, languages among many things of rural India. According to P. Sainath, “rural India is the most complex part of the planet Earth.” It is amazing to know that there are 833 million people speaking 780 languages in India, and while some languages are spoken by more than 50,000 people some others are spoken by only seven people all over India. In the last fifty years, more than 250 languages have died, he informs to the journalists present at the meet.
P. Sainath says, “Rural India is an incredible entity that is a continent in a sub-continent,” and hence he felt the need for a website like this.
PARI is a not-for-profit, non-commercial website that hopes to grow by public participation. Anyone interested in rural affairs can send in pictures, text articles, photo stories, films – as long as it fits the mandate of the website – ‘the everyday life of everyday people.’
The project depends on crowd-funding rather than on direct corporate or government funding. All the volunteers who have contributed to this website so far have not charged a single paisa.
There are many interesting categories in PARI like Faces (where you can have a glimpse of a variety of faces of rural India), Musafir (where you can find photos and articles on travel experience to the villages), Resources (where you can read all the articles published about rural India for free) and Talking albums (where you can listen to the life of a person in the form of photo and audio).
One of the featured stories on the website is of an old man, Chinnathambi, living in Idukki, who has put together a library. Another is of a five-year-old girl Kynja’s day at the Anganwadi in East Khasi Hills. The story of a 21-year-old Adi Dravida boy, Kali Veerapadran, from Kovalam who has mastered three different forms of folk dance and Bharatanatyam from the famed institution, Kalakshetra is fascinating.
The content on the website is free to access, but the readers cannot use it for commercial purposes according to the license of Creative Commons.
PARI is also approaching schools and colleges to involve the student community in the process. Students can contribute by taking pictures and writing stories on the lives of rural people. This project aims at bringing many untold stories of rural India into one website.