By Nimisha Jain:
Rural India has been in a gloomy state for long and its stagnant condition is highly attributed to its ignorant as well as ignored population. But now it’s time for a change; change for the better. Now, the rural people no longer have to be isolated from the outer, developed world. Instead, they would be able to have an access to information, opportunities, hopes etc. In a nutshell, they would have access to the possibility of a better life. And this would be achieved by a new initiative- India’s first rural newspaper- Gaon Connection.
The major factor which holds back the rural world from advancing is the lack of connection in every sphere from the external world. It’s the lack of connection between the unemployed and the jobs, between the poor farming conditions and new farming techniques, between the social backwardness and social reforms; basically between the needy and the opportunities. Once the two poles are bridged, wonders can happen. And Gaon Connection, based majorly out of Uttar Pradesh, aims to accomplish the same task of bridging.
This first rural newspaper, an initiative by Neelesh Misra, isn’t exceptional just because it would reach the innermost village homes and impart the news from every little area of the world. But because it is so rural-orientated that the focus of the innovation would be to address village related issues and corresponding solutions to the problems. Even today, village societies are mainly agriculture-based. Their high dependence on this sector of occupation demands deep knowledge and associated skills that would enhance their productivity and hence the prosperity. But it’s a misfortune for our country that despite such a large labour supply in agriculture, the supply conditions of improved skills, techniques and innovations from urban to rural areas is far less than adequate. Many government initiatives towards the furtherance of enhanced agricultural methods remain hidden from the village population. Despite the improvements in seeds’ quality, new fertilizers and manures, credit criterion for rural households etc. villagers remain in an environment of poverty and hopelessness because they stay unaware.
Often out of desperation, these poor, helpless people wish to switch their occupations. But the bleak path of unawareness either takes them nowhere or to a riskier, lowly condition. There are many who migrate to cities in search for better jobs or who take up more uncertain offers in hope of a fruitful life ahead. But as witnessed most of the times, these new attempts welcome new problems, which majorly are irredeemable. These problems can be those of high indebtedness, intense poverty, separation from families etc. Fearing from such consequences there are others who remain committed to the low producing agricultural means of survival. These problems then aggregate and result in macro level teething troubles of poverty, unemployment, criminal activities and many other social issues.
Gaon Connection seems to better the picture. The 12-page all-colour broadsheet is priced at Rs 5. Its focus on betterment of villages brings in the solution. It would impart, along with general knowledge, specific information about the new schemes of government regarding agricultural reforms. In this way new source of information could beget a better agricultural environment in rural India with better tools, machinery and other methodologies. Also, as people would wish to migrate in search for new jobs, Gaon Connection could be a guiding light. As a rural newspaper, it would try to connect the corresponding demand and supply of new jobs by letting the village people know about the vacancies waiting for them in the outer world. This would not just clear the uncertainty but also offer an access to white-collar jobs, preventing the village people from getting indulged in illegal and criminal activities to combat the problems of poverty and dearth.
Also, knowledge about the importance of education and related information about its access at cheaper costs through various government schemes can improve the enrolment rates and attendance rates of rural India and thus enrich the educational status of India as a whole. The attainment of this objective could then proceed in combating one of the major problems of the country- child labour.
Not only in terms of stabilizing and improving the economic and educational condition of villages, Gaon Connection possesses the greater ability to bring about the social and political reforms which the country needs the most at the moment. This newspaper aims to change the lenses of rural India and help the villagers modify their outlook to various social issues- inequality, gender discrimination, untouchability, women empowerment, dowry etc. Better understanding of the national political scenario can help the local governing bodies of villages to bring about a desired change in their functioning. And this newspaper can also make rural India much healthier by imparting the information about hygiene, vaccinations, diseases and cures.
Thus, we believe that Gaon Connection can make the rural India well informed. Its impact on every sphere of rural life can be so effective that various glitches that are present, like unemployment, social backwardness, poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy can vanish. This would finally result in a better India.