Capturing the Vulnerable on Camera

Vishy Teky, founder of Communication Resource Centre who has been honoured with the Rex Karamveer Silver Chakra for his work in the development sector gets talking to City Express

Published: 31st March 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th March 2015 11:21 PM   |  A+A-

Vishy Teki

HYDERABAD: When  an army officer is transferred to another state, all their children’s needs are taken care of by the government – transfer certificates, bank accounts and so on. But a child from a village, whose parents go and work in the nearby stone crusher or brick kiln loses out on education. Though it is the State’s responsibilty to take care of the child’s entitlements according to the Right to Education Act.

This is what forms the story of the documentary Migrating Childhood, one of the many films made by the Communication Resource Centre(CRC) in Hyderabad. This organisation aims to highlight issues that need attention and otherwise do not find space in the mainstream media through the visual medium.

After a five year stint in mainstream television, and then 10 years of working with many grassroot organisations, travelling extensively and touching upon issues ranging from women’s rights, migrant labourers, the effect of tsunami displacement programmes, land rights, human rights and many more, Visky Teki, founder of CRC is in a happy place. He has been awarded the Rex Karamveer award instituted by iCONGO in collaboration with UN this month for his work in the development sector. 

After winning the Karamveer Global Fellowship last year, Vishy has now been honoured with the silver chakra this year. “This award is a huge boost in terms of fulfilling the need for an alternate space like CRC to exist. Because the work we do is beyond politics, beyond a corporate group taking up an intitiative for a cause. It increases the accountabilty of our organisation in the public domain,” says Vishy. 

The organisation that is going to turn three in the month of May is set up in Alwal with a small, yet dynamic team with a clear vision – providing voice to the voiceless.

How do they do that? “I felt that there is a need for alternate media and hence started CRC. We work closely with development organisations and groups and help them put together films,” explains Vishy.

Their responsibility, however, does not end with capturing stories. They ensure that they make the much needed noise at the right level.

Another video by CRC, Small Children in Big Cities was one such. “There is a huge real estate growth and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is talking about 100 smart cities. We took this as our cue, went to five cities and captured the dream city from the eyes of children – what do sanitation, water and safety mean to them? This was screened in New Delhi and our Urban Development Minister, Venkaiah Naidu who watched it reacted saying, if not for this film, he would not have seen this perspective,” recalls Vishy. The ministry now plans to do a participatory development exercise in 10 cities in the next six months. “We have been invited to partner with them,” adds the filmmaker.   

Apart from this CRC has worked with the government of Andhra Pradesh, the first in the country in setting up a seperate social audit unit for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employee Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

“We trained close to 3,000 people to be barefoot auditors who kept a check on corruption. These people were trained free of cost on the basics of camera, how to capture stories and how evidence-based advocacy is done. We did this because when these people go for public hearings on the ground and talk about the outcomes of social audit, they need the support of visual documentation. And these people brought real stories from the ground, “ recalls Vishy.

The above is one of the many instances where CRC has played a role in bringing a change at the policy level. 

The organisation has also collaborated with national and international organisations that include Action Aid International, Action Aid Vietnam, John Snow India, John Hopkins India  and US Centre for Disease Control working on varied aspects. 

While the outcome of their films has been making a large impact, the team does go through challenges. “Sometimes it is the organisations we work with. They do not give us required space. They want things to be done their way and do not want to get the larger picture. Sometimes the areas of campaigning prove to be challenging. But we pass through,” he smiles. This becomes easy with the help of volunteers and the amount of experience Vishy himself brings to the table.

This change that his work brings to various communities is what gives him utmost satisfaction. “The amount of learning is also huge and these simple people I meet teach me the essence of life. That is what keeps me grounded,” he shares.

On a parting note, he stresses on the need for investment in leadership building, health and research by universities  for this sector to become part of the mainstream.

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