Each year, nearly a thousand development-focused articles find space in the English, Hindi and Urdu mainstream media as Charkha Features. These articles, written by Charkha writers across India, are verified, translated, edited and sent by Charkha’s editorial team to newspapers, magazines, web portals and wire services for wide dissemination.
Readers’ responses show that the grassroots realities reflected in the writings improve the appreciations of challenges facing the ‘other’ India. Government officials and community leaders often respond with action, bringing direct benefit to scores of people affected by the issues written about. Individuals receive offers of help from readers in distant places, bringing home yet again the recognition of the power of the pen.
In addition to running the Feature Service, we directly engage with rural communities in media-dark areas labeled ‘difficult’, where mainstream media barely has a presence and where the quality of governance is compromised by conflict disharmony caused by violent strife, internal displacement or recurrent environmental disaster.
In such fragile settings fraught with personal risk, we give people the ability and skills to not just speak up through their writings and advocate for their rights and entitlements, but also to negotiate the governance process such that they can sustainably take charge of their own development. Our work builds bridges between rural communities and district level government institutions, local organizations and the media. Workshops conducted in remote areas impart basic writing skills to local youth and groups inspired to volunteer time and effort to become advocates of change.
Through rigorously researched, carefully designed and systematically executed field projects, we identify and nurture educated youth who can, through their writings, highlight the strengths and problems of their communities in areas where conflict has disadvantaged people in ways beyond their control.
These individuals and local groups have, over the 20 years of our existence, come together to form the Charkha Development Communication Network.