Shubhranshu Choudhary was having a great life in the capital of India, New Delhi, working for the BBC as its Producer for the South Asia Region. As a journalist, he travelled along with some of the biggest names of the BBC such as David Loyn and Mike Wooldridge to various war-torn places in and around India to cover the news.
And then, all of a sudden, he resigned from his coveted job and left for the violent Naxal-dominated areas of central state of India, Chhattisgarh. He founded CGNet Swara, a voice-based portal, freely accessible via mobile phone, that allows any one to report and listen to stories of local interest. Reported stories are moderated by journalists and made available for playback online as well as over the phone.
In his new avatrar, Shubhranshu Chaudhary is a Knight International Journalism Fellow. He’s a Ted Talks speaker, a trustee of the BBC Media Action and an international Peace Activist.
According to CGNetSwara.org, the mission of the organisation is the following:
“Many of the estimated 80 million members of India’s tribal communities lack access to any mainstream media outlets. This often poses serious barriers to their socio-economic development, as their grievances about government neglect and economic exploitation remain unvoiced. In addition, certain factions (such as the Maoist insurgency) can exploit their frustration and isolation to violent ends.
To address this important problem, we have built and deployed CGNet Swara: a voice portal that enables ordinary citizens to report and discuss issues of local interest. To use it, they call a phone number using any mobile (or fixed line) phone. Callers are prompted to press “1” to record a new message, and “2” to listen to messages that have already been recorded. Once a message has been recorded from the field, professional, trained journalists, who access the system using a Web-based interface, review and verify the report. Approved reports are then made available for playback over the phone. The reports also can be accessed on the CGNet Swara website.”