When PARI is the teacher and rural India is the subject, we have found that learning is real, tangible and long lasting.
Take Ayush Mangal’s experience interning with us. He used his time with PARI to understand the link between the lack of access to healthcare for Adivasis in rural Chhattisgarh and the world of jhola chaap doctors. “I witnessed the tangled relationship between the private and public, qualified and unqualified doctors, and their patients. Any policy will have to address this,” says the student who belongs to Janjgir Champa district in the state, and was then studying for a master’s in Economics.
Young people are also learning more about marginalised people, who don’t feature in their textbooks. Journalism student Subhashree Mohapatra observed how difficult it is for people with disability, like Goura, to access state benefits in Koraput, Odisha. It made her ask the question: “What lack of governance had put Goura under so much emotional and physical strain?”
In September 2022, PARI Education – the education arm of People’s Archive of India – entered its fifth year. In this time, university students, young people working in organisations for social change, and middle schoolers have all gained a deeper understanding of the diverse skills and knowledge held by the common people. As well the stresses and strains, joys and reflections of ordinary people. As highschooler Prajjwal Thakur put it after he documented dhan jhoomers in Raipur, Chhattisgarh: “I became more conscious about the role of farmers in festivals and the importance of paddy... Working with PARI Education, I got a new perspective of the society in which I live.”
From almost over a hundred locations, through their school and university projects, they have been participating in the events of the day: covering farm protests in Delhi; discovering the impact of Covid-19 among marginalised people across the country; and tracing the journeys and constraints of migrant workers’ lives.
When journalism student Adarsh B. Pradeep saw families living on the banks of a canal in Kochi moving to higher ground as black waters entered their homes, he wrote a story highlighting the reasons why they had to abandon their homes. He says, “Working with PARI taught me a whole lot of things: from searching for credible data from government sources to paying attention to the minutest details. It was a learning experience but also brought me much closer to the community I was researching.”
Here students get to cover issues affecting marginalised people and write their stories in their own language. We have received and published pieces originally reported in Hindi, Odia and Bangla. It was a workshop with PARI that got Simpal Kumari from Gaya district of Bihar to write in Hindi about
, an inspiring Dalit woman of many parts –farmer, ward councillor and now an ASHA worker in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
On the PARI Education website , you can read over 200 original submissions by young people. They have reported and documented not just the lives of everyday people who are otherwise ignored by the media, but also tried to understand issues of justice – social, economic, gender, and more.
Student Parveen Kumar, who examined the world of a migrant worker in a small factory in Delhi, says, “I came to realise that people’s problems are never simply personal or isolated but are in fact deeply connected to the rest of society. That a person has to leave his village and move to the city for work is of concern to the entire community, state and country.”
Learning through exploring, engaging and empathising with others builds our understanding of society. A PARI Education is an education for life.
The best teachers are those who can relate to their students and PARI does just that – relating rural India to young Indians.The PARI Education team can be reached at [email protected]
Cover photo: Binaifer Bharucha