Thursday, December 22, 2011

Panos, London and I: a journey begins!

What is the most effective, yet the simplest way to bridge the gap between hyperlocal stories and the global audience? How can you make heard the voices off the ground in an authentic, unaltered manner? There are quite a few ideas floating around, but the 'Voice from the Ground' project of Panos, London which brings the stories straight off the ground, stands out among all.

Chhattisgarh: There are stories of inspiration waiting to be told in this land of despair and I am going to bring some of those stories on
This is how it works:
Panos selects a journalist who has been reporting development issues for a while. The journalist follows an activist/community worker for about a month and presents stories, as told to her/him by the activist/worker. The story appears as first person account and this way, the reader gets to hear and connect with the voice of the ground directly.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kim Jong -il: a look at the "mourning"

"The people will miss him deeply', says a minister
"He was garbage, good thing he's dead...", says a citizen. 
A look at how the world is mourning KimJong-il

 One of the top news headlines this morning was the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. After I finished reading, I thought, from famine to N-bomb, this guy led a country from pole to pole, all the while maintaining the enigmatic wrap around it. Now that he is gone, how is the world remembering him? I went looking up some of the countries and here is what I found.

Vietnam and Cuba
As communist countries, I expected Vietnam and Cuba to shed a lot of tears over the death of Kim Jong-il, and I wasn't disappointed. Vietnam sent a message of 'deep condolences' to North Korea, while Cuba went one step ahead, announcing a 3-day official mourning! Lucky Kim!


How does one pariah government look at another? To find an answer, I searched New Light of Myanmar - the propaganda outlet of the Junta. Surprise, surprise, there was nothing! Not even a line! Poor Kim!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why Is India Doing a Bangladesh in Burma?

Just when protests against India's 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam are growing louder and stronger in Bangladesh which it fears will rob thousands of fishermen of their livelihood, here comes another unsettling piece of news: India is building a dam in Burma's northwestern Sagaing division which will displace half a million people. 

The dam, called 'Tamanthi', is coming up over  the Chindwin river.

According to Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) a pro-democracy media outlet, more than 2,400 have already been forcibly relocated since construction began in 2007. The figure, says a DVB report, is set to rise to 45,000, as both governments push ahead with the $US3 billion venture.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Durban Diary, Entry 4: My Takeaways From COP17

I spent 15 days at the 17th COP (UFCCC climate change summit) which ended yesterday morning. Now, as I sit here awaiting my flight back home, I am counting my gifts from Durban. Some of them came easily, some I gathered and some needed to be dug.
Me and Mothiba - a cleaner lady in the summit who shifted to Durban after her village home  was washed away in flash flood.We need to write reports not just OF people like Mothiba, but also FOR her.
My first takeaway is that climate change reporting is changing and that there is a growing hunger for new perspectives, new kind of stories; people are aware of the problems, but they want to know what is happening on the solution front and what ordinary people like them are doing and can do.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Durban Diary, Entry 3: Findng India Everywhere!

Mother India. I have seen too many sisters of yours in Durban

Courtesy a huge Indian community in Durban, no matter which way you go, you can't miss seeing Indian faces everywhere around you.

I am staying in Hotel Gateway which is next to Durban's biggest shopping complex,also called  the Gateway. Most of the shops there are run by people of Indian origin. In the hotel, every other day there is a wedding party where you see dozens of Indian men and women adding jazz to the posh hotel's air. At the transport hub near the climate summit venue, a number of young volunteers helping the visitors with getting the right bus. Half of them are Indians.

But my story goes a little beyond the obvious. I am finding India where its barely there: in the clothes people wear, the styling of their hair, the way they dress or talk or raise an issue.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Durban Diary, Entry 2. Who's Listening To The Youth?

Yesterday I spent half a day in the Kwazulu Natal university of Durban. I walked around, had food (Curry and rice, sold by an Indian couple. I would have much rather preferred local food, but there wasn't any!) in a small stall and looked for people I could have a conversation with.

I didn't have to try too hard. Scattered in groups small and big, there were over 2 hundred young people. Some of them were from South Africa, while some came from other countries. Some were students, others had a job. But in Durban, they were all for the COP17 - talking, shouting slogans, rapping, crooning, dancing about Climate Change.

Students putting up posters at the bus stand. 'Climate Change is eating our jobs,' they say.