Rural India is full of diversities. In terms of languages, occupations, arts and crafts, culture, literature, legend, transportation, many other uncountable stories are still a mystery. But the rapid rural transformation is a danger to this diversity. If all the mysteries mentioned above remain a puzzle, then with the demise of souls, a whole culture and civilisation will vanish.
The connections and links are becoming more of a blur with that unique world. If it remains so, the coming generation will know only a little about this uniqueness. Though, it’s a necessity to preserve this diversity. It’s the call of the hour to maintain this greatest gift of nature forever.
PARI is doing so. The “People’s Archive of Rural India” is trying to generate, report and collect stories from the countryside. It is also creating a database of already published stories, reports, videos and audios from as many sources as possible. All of PARI’s content is a story of the “everyday lives of everyday people”. The best part is everything is available free of cost for everyone on its website.
It’s really elating for me to be a part of one of the PARI’s sessions. On 10 August, 2021, learners of the Nanakmatta Public School had a session with PARI. Preeti David, Vishakha Grorge and Riya Behl were our mentors in this workshop on PARI’s Education. We had a wonderful one and half hours talk on basic ideas behind PARI, its relevance and how we could be a part of it.
Before attending the session, we looked at its website and YouTube channel. The idea was somehow familiar to me. Going through the video’s of P Sainath, a pioneering member of PARI, gave an elaborate idea about what it exactly was. It brought too many ideas to my mind. While attending the session with PARI’s members, things clarified and it enlightened a path for our exploration.
Preeti Ma’am informed us, “Journalists are unevenly distributed all over in the field. Generally, the mainstream media captures the few stories. For example, the report says 67% of the media coverage is of the National capital. This doesn’t mean that the other parts don’t have things to discover. But the reality is they don’t have voices.”
PARI is the voice of those millions that deserve to be heard. It is cherished with the unique stories of those, many of whom are still puzzled.
On our way to know more about PARI, we looked at some of the stories from PARI’s archive. The stories were on data on migration, of the only girl from a community to pass high school and continue further studies and the story of the only old man in a village. These stories were covered by the students for PARI.
Along with this, Preeti and Vishakha Ma’am informed us, “We have near about 750 languages till now documented in India with about 86 scripts. Some languages are only spoken by few people.”
Not only do we have different languages but also many unique jobs. If we get to know a person, we will be aware of two or three jobs and languages as people do different jobs for their livelihood and learn many languages.
Taking it further, they introduced us to “Faces”. Inspired by an event, PARI also started a collection called “Faces”. In this, the pictures of different faces are collected.
Millions of Indians are subject to casual ethnic violence very simply because of how they look. Also, if we look at popular culture, we will find that it is assumed that each one of us is fair-skinned and light-eyed, but it is not so simple. That’s why “Faces” at PARI was started because every Indian face is unique in itself.
In the words of PARI, “There is no such thing as one Indian face. It is a project simple in its vision but ambitious in its mission.”
After knowing these innovative ideas, the learners had many questions. All three mentors spent time on our questions. Also, they tried to answer to the best of their abilities.
Al the questions were on how PARI looks in classrooms, the ethics and norms in such projects, different ways of documentation in PARI and the basic motive.
With an ecstatic experience and flooding of ideas, we came to the completion of the session. Hopefully, PARI will be in our classrooms and stories from our surroundings will be in PARI soon.