CHENNAI: A language spoken in Tripura has only seven speakers left. It is facing the threat of imminent extinction, which means the death of a culture and a world view. With 833 million people and 700 living languages, the stories of rural India gets attention only when there is a serious problem or a disaster, says veteran journalist P Sainath, founding editor of People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI).
The website, to be launched on Saturday, aims at giving voice to the dying-out livelihoods and the everyday lives of everyday people and provide a voice to the largely unrepresented rural India.
At a media interaction on Wednesday, ahead of the launch, he expressed concern about the nature of transformation, saying it only ‘strengthens that part of India which is ugly and backward, while destroying what is to be cherished’. “The khaps are getting stronger, while schools of art and storytellers are perishing,” he bemoaned.
Faces, livelihoods, languages and art forms would find a place in these living archives, in the form of photographs, films, texts and ‘talking albums’.
There is so much about rural India about which there is little or no awareness, says Sainath. The art of making nadaswarams, a male Dalit Bharatanaytam and folk dancer, a man in remote village in Idukki who runs a library with 160 books, the daily routine of a girl at a Meghalaya Anganwadi- the stories are diverse.
“Three faces, a man, a woman and a child, from every district in India — this is what we hope to represent,” he says explaining that they would all come with names and occupations, as the people who are being represented are central to the project. Recordings to document all the languages and dialects in the country too are a part of PARI, which will have a resource section on reports or studies for public reference.
Expansion of the project would be taken up with inputs from volunteers, students and journalists, and from the general public. The veteran journalist encourages even school children to click pictures of people in rural India and send them in with the basic details, which would all find a place in PARI, which is run by Counter Media Trust. Access to the site is free and it is not-for-profit and PARI aims at crowdsourcing to create content and which could be done for free.
“It is an incomplete living journal, we would keep adding to it as long as rural India exists, as all of it cannot be captured,” he quips.