Gaon Ki Awaaz or Village Voice is a rural news bulletin launched in December 2009 by the International Media Institute of India, Noida, using the mobile phone as a broadcast tool.

The news alerts are transmitted twice a day to 250 villagers living in and around the Rampur-Mathura village of Uttar Pradesh. The village is about 76 km from Lucknow, and  is connected by a black top road. It falls in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh, and has a population of 5,000-odd people.

The two local reporters who generate the news bulletins are: Divyakar Pratap Singh, who teaches at the Rani Saraswati Shishu Mandir located in the village, and Priya Gupta, who studies in the same school

The local filter for the audio bulletins is Satyendra Pratap, a former journalist, who grew up in the village and is now the village head. He scans the content for accuracy and usefulness before passing it to the news desk in Noida for onward transmission.

The project is unique. What’s most exciting is that the news which is meant for villagers is generated by villagers themselves and broadcast in their own language, which is Avadhi.

The first feedback from the village is very heartening.  Villagers gather around mobile phones, whose speaker phones are turned on, to listen to the bulletin.   A local merchant even released an advertisement that was broadcast on March 5.

It is still early days for the project. But what is clearly emerging is the utility value of such a broadcast.

All suggestions to improve the service are welcome. Please leave your comments on the blog or get in touch with us at sunil.s@imii.co.in.