April 17, 2010

Activist readers

Do you follow-up on reports you publish?
This is a question readers ask me on e-mail or in person.
Is there some impact that words and pictures make?
On officials, on people, on the community.
There is some impact. But there is no magic.

If a newspaper could catalyse huge changes then it would be a fantastic achievement.
But you and I can make bigger changes if we could work together.
We have a role to play; so do you.

A few people think that by dashing off e-mails to the newspapers or writing a string of letters, some kind of magic will happen.
It will not.

In Mumbai, an NGO is executing a simple exercise as far civic issues go.

It invites people to use their cam-cellphones or their digital cameras to shoot pictures of serious civic problems and post them on a Web space.

Officials of state agencies are asked to take a look every now and then - for they can decide if the problem is real and serious and how they are going to deal with it.

Perhaps it also records the civic office’s response to such issues and makes apparent in what is also a public space.

Now, if a newspaper like ours reports an issue it is difficult for a small team to keep a tab on it all the time. But people who live in the area, people associated with the issue or civic conscious people can certainly keep an eye on it and update us.

A tech-savvy group certainly can tap into technology to create spaces that help keep a tab on pot-holed roads and garbage piles if that is what worries your colony.

Another volunteer group can list community complaints and ask the correspondent to update them every now and then - online.

I am sure there are many other ways in which we can followup on issues and ensure our actions create an impact.
I would like to hear from you.

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