Climate change may have been the subject of much talk, but the winners of the Ramnath Goenka Awards have shown just how much of a reality it is in rural India. They brought out the extent of the impact through people’s stories.
Team PARI (People’s Archive Of Rural India) is the winner in the Environment, Science and Technology Reports category in press while Team Scroll is the winner in audiovisual media. The PARI team, led by senior journalist P Sainath, includes 14 journalists – Shalini Singh, Sanket Jain, Ritayan Mukherjee, Vishaka George, Kavitha Muralidharan, Medha Kale, Parth MN, Urvashi Sarkar, Namita Waikar, Chitrangada Choudhury, Aniket Aga, Jaideep Hardikar, M Palani Kumar and Subuhi Jiwani. Team Scroll included Nooshin Mowla, Sujit Lad, Omkar Phatak, Swati Ali, Dewang Trivedi, Shibika Suresh, and Sannuta Raghu.
PARI journalists have compiled a comprehensive report on climate change through more than 20 articles, covering all of India. These stories mapped climate change through the lived experiences of farmers, laborers, fishermen, forest dwellers, algae gatherers, nomadic herders and honey collectors, among others. They covered forests, seas, river basins, coral islands, deserts, arid and semi-arid areas, rural and urban areas. Journalists made the crisis accessible to the reader. “It was a challenge to reach people, whether they were nomadic pastoralists 14,000 feet above sea level in Ladakh or diving with seaweed gatherers in Tamil Nadu. Another challenge that journalists faced was to interpret the abstract language of climate reporting into words that could be understood by the general public, ”Singh said.
Five of their stories are used to teach climate change to students at schools and colleges in Jharkhand and Odisha. The Adivasis children also told these stories in their language from their own perspective.
Scroll, through her program Eco India, told the story of women farmers in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, who gradually took possession of the land and weathered the ravages of drought. They had no land ownership rights, which limited their access to resources such as finance, markets, water and government services. But they saved the seeds and learned how to grow a diverse range of nutrient-rich crops using organic farming. Trained by Swayam Shikshan Prayog (a non-profit organization), these women farmers were able to make informed decisions about what crops to grow, what to eat and how much to sell.
The story tells how the model of climate-resilient agriculture led by women helped to reverse the trend of their marginalization. Today, more than 58,000 women farmers and households practice sustainable agriculture which has helped them achieve food security, health and a basic income. In Maharashtra, 70 percent of women workers are involved in agricultural activities, despite which women are seen as workers and rarely as decision-makers.
“Getting women to open up about their lives in front of the camera has been one of the biggest challenges we have faced. It was difficult for them to talk about their issues and accomplishments without fear of being judged by their community, especially men, ”said Sannuta Raghu of Team Scroll.