Categories
All Initiative Social

A day in the life of civil society volunteers in India, helping the migrants during Covid times.

Correction: In the video, it says Fatorda is in North Goa. It is actually in South Goa.

Categories
All Rural India Social Startups

How Indian farmers are finally making profit!

Some basic changes in the approach to farming, is showing dramatic improvements in profitability for thousands of farmers in India. This is that story. I was commissioned by a startup – Bharat Agri, (from IITM juniors) to make it. Hope you like the 3MS.

The folks at Bharat Agri have been doing great work since quite some time, but were struggling to put together a good video that conveyed what they did. A video makes it easier for their sales team to start dialogues with more farmers.

“What is that you don’t like about the videos that you already have”? I ask Sai, the co-founder as we drive to a village to attend a farmers meet. “The audio sucks”, I am explained.

🙂 I hope the audio doesn’t suck in my video. Let me know? Btw, you can also watch the behind the scenes video of how I went about making this 3MS (if that is something you like to watch).

Part 1:

Part 2:

Categories
All Education NGO Organization Schools Social

Is this the best use of INR 40 lakh ever? Incredible story of what Saleem did!

Indus Action commissioned me to make a story on this amazing 40 lakh grant that they have to offer to anyone with relevant experience who can commit to work for 3 years for getting underprivileged children to schools. I asked them if there was someone who had already received the grant? They said yes. I suggested we tell that person’s story. They agreed. This is that story. This is Saleem’s story. What exactly did Saleem do with 40 lakh rupees? How do you get underprivileged children to schools? Watch it spread the good word about the grant! Thanks!

Categories
All Education Organization Schools Social

This is how India is moving away from rote learning! Awesome!

FSG India recently commissioned me to make a video-story on one of their amazing programs that is enabling a nation-wide sustainable transformation of affordable private schools (the lower rung schools in cities where low-income households send their children to). I travelled to Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai for this story, where I interviewed school owners and principals, children (who study in such schools) and their parents and several private players in the early childhood education sector, who for some reason or other, had hitherto never considered selling their innovative teaching modules to such schools, but are doing so now!

India truly needs such initiatives. I am excited that I get to witness such efforts first hand. If you liked this one, you should also watch the story that I created for The Education Alliance earlier – about a similar transformation, but applicable for Municipal schools of Delhi.

Categories
All Initiative NGO Rural India Social

Can poverty be solved by giving 1 lakh cash to poor families?

CashRelief.org, a non-profit, hired me recently to help them bring out the story of why they started this crazy program to offer close to 1 lakh rupees to all families in a village, unconditionally. I have tried to show what the typical perception of most urban Indians is, when it comes to using cash to help poor and why the co-founders of CashRelief don’t necessarily agree with the predominant narrative. This video-story would help them in raising funds for expanding this pilot in different parts of India. I also created a behind the scenes video from the few days that I spent in the village in Rajasthan, where the pilot has been rolled out!

This was a pretty stimulating experience for me. When I first heard of the program, I was both excited (because something like this was never done in India before) and skeptical – how will something like this ever work? In fact, it was my idea that I should meet some of the funders of this program to ask them why they agreed to be a part of this? And that day of meetings with many of them, did make it easy for me to understand their thought process and why this experiment deserves a fair chance! That’s pretty much what this story is about. What do you think?

Rajasthan, India. 2018. It was a struggle to get this picture right. I am glad I got it right. Ambalal and family are trying to finish their house. There is a flash hidden on the left side (of the photograph) and there is natural light coming from the right. Let me explain why it was challenging to make this photograph. It was a hot day today. This is a small village in Rajasthan. It was so hot that my flash (Godox AD360ii) started acting absurdly and would fire only once in a while. Now I pretty much knew I wanted a picture of the family right here, but without flash this picture wouldn’t look as good as it looks right now. When the flash would fire, the expressions wouldn’t come great and when the expressions were great, the flash wouldn’t fire. But I kept at it, and kept the family smiling to the extent that I could (kids lost interest in my jokes pretty soon). Finally, I got this. And I showed it to them the moment I got it, because I knew I had gotten my shot. Why was I so keen on having the family smile? Because I know they are genuinely happy for the fact that they very recently received a gift of INR 96,000/- from CashRelief.org – a first of its kind initiative in India that selects a poor Indian village and grants this much money to each family in the village with no strings attached / no conditions imposed. The money has been pooled together from various rich donors. This village is the first pilot and I am documenting the story as a film-maker. The whole photography thing, is just a side thing. I do have something interesting in mind, for some of these pictures though! 🙂 Ambalal and his family put most of the money they were gifted to finish this house that had been under construction for over two years now. It is very difficult for the poor to save / raise enough money to build a ‘pakka’ house. From what I have observed in this village of 34 people so far is, those who have started building a house, are using the money to finish it. Those who have a house, but no animals, buy cattle. Those who have cattle, buy other stuff from a motorcycle (to ease their commute) to a fridge in a small shop.

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This is Hiralal, and his wife. They are blushing because I asked them to imagine themselves as newlywed. 34 families live in the village where Hiralal lives. Most of them own farming land but are able to produce only enough to consume themselves. There is little money to be made / saved. When there is no farming work to do, all the villagers go for daily wage which fetches them between 200 to 300 rupees per day. On an average, the monetary wealth they can create in a year is about 50,000 rupees. But how does it matter? Every villager wants to have a safer, better house that doesn’t collapse in rain. And a house like that costs anywhere between 1 to 2 lakh if not higher. So it takes villagers like Hiralal five to six years to build a decent house, that could have been built in six months. The house you see behind them is that house, btw. Eventually everyone takes loan from somewhere or other, mostly at absurdly high interest rates (upto 10% per month) and live a poor life, all their lives. As part of new program initiated by a private entity (cashrelief dot org), close to 1 lakh rupees was given to Hiralal and each family in the village – all the 34 of them – to see what they do with that money if there are no strings attached and no conditions imposed. Hiralal already had a decent house, so he bought a buffalo. He still has 70k left. He says, the first priority now is to make a shed for the animal. And then the two of them will figure out what next to do with the money. He really wants to figure out how to double the amount that he has received. Many others used significant portion of the money to pay off their extremely costly debts. Others put that in finishing their house (thus freeing up productive man-years for the family). It’s been less than a month that this money was transferred to the families. #documentary #story #stories #rajasthan #ruralindia #photojournalism #documentaryphotography #3ms #3minutestories #couple #strobe #ruralcouple #bharat #cashforrelief #ruralstories

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Categories
All Health & Wellness Inspiring NGO Organization Rural India Social

It’s fascinating what it takes to save lives of the poorest!

Over 150 of 1,000 infants and over 300 of 1,000 under five children were dying in the remote tribal villages of Kalahandi district in Orissa (India) when Dr. Aquinas started Swasthya Swaraj in 2013. To put the above numbers in context, the infant mortality rate is in single digit for most developed countries and the average for India is around 30 deaths per 1000 children. Four years of work by Swasthya Swaraj has brought down the rate to around 100 in the villages (where it serves). This is the story of how that happened – what does it take to save lives of the poorest?

Categories
Education Initiative Inspiring NGO Organization Social Woman-power

And you thought free schools for slum kids was enough!


Many slum children who manage to go to schools, don’t enjoy their school life. The environment outside school does not encourage them to do anything productive and most just waste away their time. Some pick up bad habits, other pick up fights. Kamya solves this problem. This is her story.

My Perch is a space that I run in the Barola slum in Noida. Children come over, generally after school hours and spend as much time as they feel like, just being themselves and doing whatever they feel like doing, without the fear of being judged”, Kamya had said.

I was on my way to the place, expecting to find a dilapidated space in the middle of a filthy slum surrounded by broken houses next to unpaved roads.

The location was none of that. ‘My Perch’ was essentially the basement of a typical NCR building, right on a main road. I would discover soon that the slum from where most kids came over to this space, was not far behind the main road.

 

Let me tell you what typically does not happen in most schools and definitely not in the types where most underprivileged children manage to go.

Nobody asks them “so what would you like to learn”? Few months ago, when the children were asked this question at ‘My Perch’ – some said they wanted to know how to cook healthy food. Just reading about the dangers of the kind of food that they ate outside was not enough for them. So, cooking materials were put together and soon, with the help of Youtube, the children started learning and cooking, teaching each other in the process, and even selling the ‘healthy’ cooked food for nominal prices to those who wished to eat it.

 

I was commissioned by India Fellow to make this 3MS on Kamya and other fellows, who are bringing in a change in society in their own ways. India Fellow is a 13 month long social leadership program where young Indians can apply, and if chosen, get to experience what working on ground for various non-profits and social enterprises across India is. Visit their website to know more about the fellowship and to apply.

Categories
All Initiative Organization Rural India Social

What two brothers in Punjab are doing for farmers is way better than charity!

Charity can never solve the huge issues that farmers of our country face. So what are the some of the better ways to improve their lives? This is what this video-story is about. By the way, this is the first 3MS that I shot but did not edit. 🙂 It was edited by a different team sitting in Amsterdam – a team at Zoomin.TV. I stumbled upon a story on the brothers online and pitched the idea to Zoomin – a dutch media house curating stories from across the globe on various topics; “local heroes” being one of them. The story got a go ahead, I contacted the brothers and soon travelled to Kapurthala to meet them.

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#ffffff” text=”#52548d” align=”left” size=”2″ quote=”Although most farmers in India operate in a high risk setup, the return is not high enough.” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]

Pawiter and Harjap are cousin brothers and belong to well-to-do farming families. They don’t have money issues themselves but they have seen first hand how smaller farmers don’t have it easy. Although most farmers in India operate in a high risk setup, the return is not high enough. Small farmers have a poor negotiating advantage when it comes to selling their produce; the mandi guys dictate the price and the farmer doesn’t have much option (can’t store, can’t take back the produce and has very little knowledge of where else he can sell). The middlemen at the mandi easily sell the same stuff for 75% to 100% higher rates to the end buyers. And the brothers see this as an issue.

Harjap did farming himself for a while and hated this lack of control that farmers had (on deciding the price). Farmerfriend, their website and app addresses this problem. They have been putting together buyers and farmers on one platform (for free) so that farmers don’t have to depend totally on the middlemen – and can directly strike deals with bulk or retails buyers in nearby urban areas. Using this site, they can now sell for higher price and at the same time, for the buyer, the overall cost is lesser (compared to procuring from middlemen). The journey for these brothers has just begun. They will have to raise a lot of money if they want to spread this across India (a lot of groundwork is required to go meet and convince the farmers). But they are confident they will figure out a way to scale this up. Farmers across India, need such platforms. Like, right away!

Categories
All Disability Initiative Social Travel

How do you make a wheelchair tourist in India happy?

Earlier this month (Apr 2017), Umoja, a travel portal focused on ‘accessible’ travel, organized a week long event in Goa where I got to meet few wheelchair tourists who had found a great reason to be happy about being in Goa. You might think everyone is generally happy about being in Goa anyway, but watch the story first! 🙂 You will know what I am talking about!

Talking about this film, I would have loved to shoot how these guys went about setting up the special ramp but unfortunately I came to know about this event only after all that had already been done! 🙁

By the way, there is an interesting (and inspiring) article on Yourstory, on one of the protagonists of my story . If you liked the 3MS, you can read more about her. As usual, if you are doing something interesting yourself that I can come shoot and tell your story, or if you want to sponsor one of my stories, do reach out to me: amrit@3minutestories.com

In May first week, I am flying to Kochi to capture the story of the blind football players of India! Will keep you guys posted!

Categories
All Initiative Social Woman-power

This is how Rajasthan has been empowering its women.

I read a story about these special women cops in Udaipur who were trained to tackle women harassment cases. Udaipur is one of the bigger and popular cities of Rajasthan state (Jaipur is the capital city). I thought it would be cool to shoot some of these cops in action and also find out what special training they had gone for. In the process of finding a connection in Udaipur Police, I ended up being connected to the head of Rajasthan Police Academy – Rajeev Dasot, IPS. I was told that the training for all the cops in Rajasthan happens in his academy (located in Jaipur). And that included the ‘special’ training of the women cops of Udaipur too. He also told me that one such new group was being trained as we spoke and I was welcome to shoot them and interview them. So I headed to Jaipur and did exactly that. That’s what this 3 Minute Story is about.

I would have loved to also shoot the cops in action (on field) but let’s hope that happens some other time. What’s happening in Udaipur is not happening in Jaipur and I had only so much of time in hand to be in one city at a time.

I have also Vlogged about my experience and if you see it you would also get to know about two upcoming stories. Hope this story of what Rajasthan Police Academy is doing, was worth your time. If you know of other stories, anywhere in India, that you might want me to consider, do let me know. Until then, hope 2016 was not all that bad and all the best wishes for the new year. As for me, I haven’t made any plans for what to do tonight yet! I hope you have? 🙂

PS: I would like to thank my IIT junior and friend Gaurav Jain for connecting me to Rajeev sir. And of course Rajeev sir for his hospitality and time and insights.