Taaza Khabar: Outdoor meeting of jounalists with Nirantar
Director: Bishakha Datta; Cinematographer: Ranu Ghosh
Duration: 01:13:35; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 36.075; Saturation: 0.041; Lightness: 0.441; Volume: 0.111; Cuts per Minute: 3.506
Summary: Part of the footage of the film Taaza Khabar directed by Bishakha Datta and produced by Nirantar. The film is about the journey of a team of all women journalists of Khabar Lahariya (a grassroots newspaper published by the women themselves) through several obstacles. The determined efforts are to ensure the 62nd issue of Khabar Lahariya reaches its readers on time. The women are from Chitrakoot district in U.P. who report stories that find no space in mainstream media. It also portrays how these women have created their own space and established their identity in a context where patriarchy and caste-based discriminations are dominant. In this event, an outdoor meeting with Nirantar (the NGO that started Khabar Lahariya) and the journalists bring to light the history behind how the newspaper was formed. They discuss the background of how literacy for women took place nationally and the challenges, issues and concerns that revolve around women's literacy, journalism and a larger goal of inclusive citizenship.
Karwi, Chitrakoot, UP
The Khabar Lahariya journalists all meet at an outdoor location. It's an open and airy place with a structure that looks historically significant, with pillars, arches and a high ceiling. They all sit together and casually chat while some workers clean the place. A few men swim in a water body nearby. The journalists are engaged in a conversation about stories they worked on, discussing issues. The camera captures the ambience of the place, showing the various stone structures around the area and some carvings on the walls and the pillars. The carvings depict dieties from the Hindu religion.
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The team from Nirantar (Nirantar is the NGO, based in Delhi that started Khabar Lahariya - http://www.nirantar.net
) arrives, and the journalists welcome them warmly as they all exchange greetings and hug each other. They all seem very delighted at meeting after a long time and cheerfully catch up while walking towards the venue of their meeting. The women arrange the place by laying out sheets and mats on the floor, while one of the male helpers prepares tea for the group. All of them settle down on the floor and informally talk to each other, sharing jokes and having a light moment. Kavita distributes tea to everyone. Shakila, one of the journalists, goes forward and cuts a cake while everyone applauds.
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The meeting starts with Malini from Nirantar who gives a brief idea of the history and background of how they got involved in the women's literacy movement when the country was having several literacy campaigns. It was during this time that they were associated with the National Institute of Adult Education (NIAE), and got engaged with issues of literacy among women. While a lot of women were getting literate, they realized that there was no material where women could read and and also express themselves in. Even if there was any material, it was all created by someone else, which they could not directly relate to. Hence arose a need to create some material where the women themselves could be a part of, giving them an opportunity to write and produce news that is relevant to their lives. In 1992, Mahila Dakiya, a broadsheet (A broadsheet is a newspaper format that is characterized by a single, long vertical page containing news material) was founded with this purpose. (The Mahila Dakiya was part of a government initiated village based programme for women's empowerment called Mahika Samakhya)
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Dipta, another member from the Nirantar team shares the history of Mahila Samakhya during the time where there was a water crises in areas that the women lived due to dysfunctional handpumps. The women themselves decided to learn to repair and maintain the handpumps. So on one hand, there were Kol and Dalit women being trained to become handpump mechanics and parallely on the other hand, there were literacy camps that were also being held for them. These two occurences seemed the perfect oppurtunity to join the two and start the broadsheet Mahila Dakiya, where the issues that the women were involved with in their villages would be highlighted and presented by the women themselves. This step was also a way to retain literacy in the neo-literate women (newly literate women).
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Kavita shares her experience about her time at Mahila Dakiya and how the women journalists would go from village to village to get the news from those places. The broadsheet stopped after a few years, after which many people started to ask her about the possibility of reviving it. After that, Khabar Lahariya got founded. Kavita talks about the differences between the two newspapers.
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Shanti shares her story about how she used to be illiterate before she joined the Mahila Samakhya programme. She was very happy when she was asked to join Mahila Dakiya, and enjoyed the work very much. After the broadsheet stopped, she would get many queries about it and people would tell her that they missed getting information and reading Mahila Dakiya. After Khabar Lahariya came about, however, this gap was filled. Shanti also shares a few experiences she had while covering stories.
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Malini talks about how the journalists' association with Mahila Dakiya built their confidence in their ability to work efficiently. Their workshops were a great exposure where everyday was a new learning. She shares stories about how the journalists were initially nervous when they went on their first interview, but with practise and experience, they got better at it. Kavita and Shanti share some funny experiences they had during the workshops. Malini recounts the time when she first saw Kavita, who was only twelve years old at the time and had enrolled for the women's learning programme. She highlights the importance of the women's journey during the ten years.
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Shanti shares how she was really sad when Mahila Dakiya came to a close. She started to earn money through other means like collecting boxes. Once Khabar Lahariya started and she started working on it, she realized that she can live independently and sustain herself by earning on her own. She stresses on how interested she is in working for the paper and is very happy doing the job. She also recounts cheerfully how she first understood what a dummy newspaper means.
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Shalini Joshi from Nirantar talks about the shift from the broadsheet newspaper Mahila Dakiya to the full newspaper Khabar Lahariya and the various responses that is generated. The general response to Khabar Lahariya was that it was a women's newspaper only for women. So there was a need to prove that the women were established as journalists, not only covering women's issues. This was done by covering a greater variety of news such as politics, national and international news, after which the rural newspaper came to be seen as a serious effort reaching out to both men and women readers.
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Dipta explains how with the role of the women as journalists, the importance of women as equal citizens is also slowly getting accepted. The fact that these women are involving themselves with issues of politics, understanding democracy and investigating issues of state and national importance brings to the forefront their active participation as citizens. She emphasises how this new front of citizenship of women is very important and crucial to the process of engaging women in literacy and journalism.
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One of the other members from Nirantar shares her views on how the newspaper has positively progressed on being one only for women to that which is for everyone, touching upon politics, larger issues and citizenship. Malini and Kavita talk about how other than only journalism, the women also learnt other processes around it.
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The group discuss some issues around covering elections. Everyone gives their opinions and shares their views based on their experiences.
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