While climate change has been the subject of many discussions, the Ramnath Goenka Awards winners have demonstrated that it is a real reality in rural India. They highlighted the impact of people’s stories.
Team PARI (Peoples Archive Of Rural India), won the Environment, Science And Technology Reporting category for print, while Team Scroll was the winner in broadcast media. Team PARI, led by veteran journalist P Sainath, comprises 14 reporters Shalini Singh, Sanket Jain, Ritayan Mukherjee, Vishaka George, Kavitha Muralidharan, Medha Kale, Parth M N, Urvashi Sarkar, Namita Waikar, Chitrangada Choudhury, Aniket Aga, Jaideep Hardikar, M Palani Kumar and Subuhi Jiwani. Team Scroll was comprised of Sujit Lad (Omkar Phatak), Swati Singh, Swati A, Swati Allison, Shibika Suresh, Sannuta Rahu, Swati Trivedi and Dewang Trivedi.
PARI journalists created a comprehensive report on climate changes through more than 20 stories. This included India’s entire length and breadth. These stories included the lived experiences of farmers and fishermen, as well as forest dwellers, seaweed harvesters and nomadic pastoralists, as well as honey tappers. They covered forests and seas, rivers basins, coral island, deserts and arid and semiarid areas, as well rural and urban areas. The reporters made the crisis understandable for the reader. Reaching out to people was difficult, whether it was the nomadic pastoralists at 14,000 feet above sea level in Ladakh, or the women seaweed harvesters in Tamil Nadu. Singh stated that another challenge faced reporters was to interpret climate reports’ abstract language in terms that could be understood by the general population.
Five stories from their lives are being used to teach students about climate change in Odisha and Jharkhand. Adivasi kids have also retold these stories using their language and their own perspective.
Scroll, through its Eco India show, told the story about women farmers in the Marathwada area of Maharashtra who took over the land and overcame drought. They did not have any land ownership rights, which severely limited their access and ability to finance, markets, water, government services, and other resources. They kept their seeds and learned to grow a wide range of nutritious-rich crops by organic farming. These women farmers were trained by Swayam Shakshan Prayog, a non-profit organisation. They were able to make informed decisions about the crops they wanted to grow, what they would eat and how much to market.
The story told how the women-led model for climate-resilient farm helped to reverse their marginalization. Over 58,000 women farmers and their households now practice sustainable farming, which has helped them to ensure food security, basic income, and good health. Maharashtra’s 70% female workers are engaged in agriculture activities. However, women are often seen as laborers and not decision-makers.
We had to get the women to share their lives with the camera. This was one of our biggest challenges. Sannuta Raghu, Team Scroll, stated that it was difficult for them not to share their achievements and problems without fearing being judged by their community, especially men.