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Community Video Unit

The CVU produces monthly news magazines called “Aapna Malak Ma”, giving a powerful voice to those who need it most.

 

In July 2006, Navsarjan established a Community Video Unit (CVU) in collaboration with Drishti Media and Video Volunteers. The CVU produces monthly news magazines called “Aapna Malak Ma” (In Our Community), screening them in village centers. These videos focus on issues relevant to the residents of 25 villages in 3 talukas of Surendranagar District. 

The CVU is a tool for grassroots change, awareness, mobilization, information and advocacy. It promotes participation, dialogue and community responsibility in order to stimulate behavioral change and encourage a community call to action

The video producers are local community members trained in partnership with Drishti-Video volunteers. The video magazines are made focusing on the entire village, not only the Dalit locality.

So far, the total audience for the screenings is well into the tens of thousands.

Video magazines have been produced on the following issues:

  1. Below The Poverty Line
  2. Health
  3. Gram Panchayat (Village Council) Elections
  4. Land Rights
  5. Employment
  6. Self-employment
  7. Sanitation
  8. Addiction
  9. Impact of the CVU

 

Impact:

Dalit issues

  • Because the screenings are held in the village center and are such big events, many people across caste lines attend.  This increases the connection and relationship between Dalits and non-Dalits.
  • In many of the villages in which the films are screened, Dalits never speak out.  But the films give voice to issues that face them, and after the screenings they have a chance to address the mixed-caste audience with a microphone.  This gives them a feeling of empowerment.
  • Non-Dalits who have come to the CVU screenings have begun taking part in other Navsarjan programs, such as foot marches, water meetings, training camps, rallies, and women’s groups. 

Women’s issues

  • Women across castes get together to talk about their common problems (for example, alcohol addiction among men is a common problem, so through the Addictions film, women across caste lines can talk about it.
  • Female CVU members were instrumental in the creation of 4 women’s rights groups in 4 different villages.
  • Villagers and authorities are surprised and impressed that within the CVU, the women hold the cameras and have leadership positions.

Power and politics

  • Local government and the police have grown to fear the CVU because even they (i.e., government and police) do not know the law well, and the CVU members do know the law well.  The CVU members sometimes even explain laws to the police.
  • After the screenings, people accuse the village leaders of corruption and not doing anything, and demand action.
  • After seeing the Health film, Panchayats organized the cleaning of the village and school, and the villagers took part. 
  • During filming, the presence of a video camera often scares people into immediate action.  For example, on the Sanitation film, there were many incidents of people being frightened by the video camera and taking action on their own. 

 

Challenges:

  • Some non-Dalit children throw stones at the screen and the CVU members because they are Dalits.
  • Sometimes Dalit women do no come because they are afraid of being assaulted or harassed by non-Dalits.
  • Darbars (dominant landlord caste) do not want Darbar women to go out and see the films because of their practice of the purdah system, in which women are supposed to stay in the home.
  • Some men come to the screenings drunk.
  • There are problems because the screenings are in rural areas (power problems, rain problems, short circuits, etc.).

 

CVU related links

Aapna Malak Ma's page on Channel 19

The CVU's video on Land Rights, subtitled in English

The Times of India: Lens power for the poor