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Videos help foster communal harmony

Nov 26, 2008

A community-made video showcasing examples of Hindu-Muslim unity in a riot-affected city is ushering change in western India. Distributed online, such short clips are empowering people to take action on critical issues of development.

In a city where Hindu-Muslim riots killed thousands of people, meet a Hindu man who runs a Muslim shrine. Watch a local cock fight and learn how the fight is a metaphor for the government manipulation that led to the riots.

And see how the two religious festivities bring the communities together. Happy Eid and Diwali is a call for peace between the Hindus and Muslims in the post-riot slums of Ahmedabad.

The short clip was made by Samvad, the community video unit of Saath, an Ahmedabad-based NGO which works on bringing infrastructure to thousands of slum residents through a network of women-led community-based organisations.

 Watch the video

Video Volunteers, a New York-based NGO has set up such community video units in different states of India. A year ago, it launched Channel 19, an online platform showcasing videos made by men and women from slums and villages, working as full-time community producers in local community video units.

The community producers make 30-minute films that reflect the voices of their community, on various issues such as health, sanitation, education, women's rights and human rights. Today, there are over 40 grassroots video producers, who have already held more than 500 community screenings, seen by more than 170,000 local people.

Samvad’s community producers were affected by the Gujarat riots in 2002, and feel empowered by the process of making films about issues such as slum development, women’s employment, education and peace between Hindus and Muslims.

When Eid fell on the same day as Diwali, the community producers urged their fellow slum dwellers to celebrate both the festivals. This was their attempt to unite the two communities, which is still very relevant given that India, like other parts of the world, is wracked by communal tension and terrorism.

At the various screenings of this video in conflict-ridden areas, viewers spoke about the need for peace and how they were 'seeing' the humanity of the other community for the first time.

Video Volunteers’ innovative community media initiative is bridging the literacy barrier, and communicates to people in the visual medium they like best. Also, it promotes change, through focused discussions and follow-ups with audiences in community screenings.

Source : Channel 19
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