Gaon Ki Awaaz was awarded the Manthan 2010 South Asia award in the e-news and media category in New Delhi on December 17.

The award, which is rated as one of the top South Asian awards in the field of ICT initiatives, was chosen for launching India’s first mobile-based rural news service.

This is the second award that Gaon Ki Awaaz has won this year. In July, this year the innovative project was awarded the mBillionth South Asia Award 2010.

The Gaon Ki Awaaz news service was conferred the mBillionth South Asia 2010 Award in the m-News and Journalism Category at a glittering function held in New Delhi on July 23.

The award was conferred on Gaon Ki Awaaz for innovation in the field of mobile content that benefitted the masses. The Grand Jury in its citation noted that Gaon Ki Awaaz has been conferred the award for “creating a voice-enabled mobile-based channel for villagers”.

The award was presented by Mr Pradeep Gupta of Cyber Media to Mr Sunil Saxena and Mr Satyendra Pratap, Producers of Gaon Ki Awaaz.

Gaon Ki Awaaz was selected from 26 nominations received from eight south Asian countries in the m-News and Journalism Category.

Besides this, the founders of the award, Digital Empowerment Foundation, gave away awards to innovative mobile developments in eight other categories.

Gaon Ki Awaaz, India’s first mobile news service for rural India, has crossed yet another milestone.

The mobile news service that began broadcasting free audio bulletins as voice calls to villagers living in the Rampur-Mathura village of Sitapur district in December 2009 went paid this week.

On the very first day of the subscription drive, 42 of the 45 villagers who were approached paid the subscription fee.

“It is a great step forward for Gaon Ki Awaaz or Village Voice, “ says an ecstatic Satyendra Pratap, Editor of the service. “It shows that the villagers want news about themselves, and in their language.”

Divyakar Pratap Singh, the village reporter who generates the audio bulletins, was similarly overwhelmed. “The villagers happily paid the three-month subscription fee of Rs 30. They did not want their news bulletins to be stopped.”

Earlier, the local merchants had given a similar confidence vote to Gaon Ki Awaaz. A local cloth merchant was the first to release an ad in March 2010. Since then the village barber, tailor, Internet café operator, coaching centre owner and even the village astrologer have advertised their services.

The bulletins that are in the local Avadhi dialect are generated by two village reporters who travel in and around the villages to gather information. These are then transmitted as voice calls twice a day – at 12 noon and at 5 pm – to villagers living in 50 villages of Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh.

Initially the number of subscribers was limited to 20. In March 2009, this number was raised to 250, and the bulletins started reaching 50 villages.

“The villagers’ response shows that the model is working. It can well become the preferred news medium in rural India,“ says Pratap.

Mint, the business daily from The Hindustan Times Group, has run a detailed report on Gaon Ki Awaaz.

The report titled “Phone news bulletins to empower rural India” was published on June 14, 2010, as part of the series that the newspaper is running on innovative mobile projects that have been nominated for the mBillionth award.

Click here to read the full report on Livemint.com.

The Gaon Ki Awaaz has been shortlisted in the mNews and Journalism category for the 2010 mBillionth award instituted by Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF).

The award has been instituted for projects that best fulfil the category criteria, which is: “Use of Mobile and complementing applications and embedded services for (multi-lingual) news broadcasting in all possible media format like text, audio, video, SMS, MMS, etc.; Reaching masses and enabling people with mobile devices for citizen journalism for local and regional news through interactive applications like twitter, facebook, and other web 2.0 mobile enabled applications including Mobile 2.0 dynamic media technology applications.”

According to a mail received from the DEF, the mBilionth Committee chose the project from the 200 nominations that were received under the different categories. The nominations came from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Maldives.

The awards Grand Jury met in Colombo last week to choose the final winners. Their names will be announced in New Delhi on July 23, 2010.

You would have heard of multinationals unleashing a blitz of publicity to launch products in cities. But in a village? Most likely no.

For the first time in India, a village entrepreneur has decided to promote his Internet centre through launch ads.

The Internet centre, named Jan Suvidha Kendra, will formally start functioning in the Vikhas Khand office of Rampur-Mathura in Sitapur district from May 25.

But the entrepreneur, Devendra Singh, has launched a burst of publicity on Gaon Ki Awaaz, the mobile phone based audio bulletin that is broadcast twice a day to 250 subscribers living in 50 villages around Rampur-Mathura.

The launch ad that goes as a voice call to phone users has a male and female anchor alternating to promote the centre. It invites villagers to get their birth certificates, death certificates, rail reservation, downloading and filling of pension forms, payment of electricity bill etc done from the centre from May 25

In all, Devender has bought five launch ads which started running from May 16. Each ad ends with the entrepreneur asking villagers to call 9415526143, and avail the services.

Quite clearly, the entrepreneur has realised the value of taking his message to his target audience, which happens to be fellow villagers living in a ten kilometer radius of his Jan Suvidha Kendra. “The village is talking about the centre ten days before its opening,” says school teacher Divyakar.

This is a great service for villagers who till now had to queue in front of the tehsil office to get the certificates issued from the none-too-cooperative village officials.

Click here to listen to the ad broadcast on May18noon.

Robbers broke into the historic Muralidhar temple in Rampur-Mathura village on the night of May 14, tied the priest and his helper and looted Rs 12,000 that was kept for bhandara.

The robbers, who were young in age, also took away two sacks of rice, 15 kg of pulses and other dry rations kept in the temple. Even pots and pans were not spared.

Listen to the audio bulletin broadcast on May14noon.

It is not only the city student who wants to do well. The coaching bug has bitten the rural students too.

The Rampur-Mathura students enrolled in classes nine to 12 can now join the coaching classes of Vivek Sir, and improve their maths and physics skills.

They can also join the coaching if they are preparing for competitive classes.

Listen to the ad released by Vivek Sir Coaching on May12eve.

Subhash Chand Jain, owner of Jain Pump Store in Rampur-Mathura village is the latest village merchant to climb on the Gaon Ki Awaaz bandwagon.

In an advertisement broadcast on May 5 evening the pump store owner appealed to farmers to visit the store and buy tractor parts, engine parts, boring machine hardware, tyres and tubes at concessional prices.

Listen to the advertisement broadcast on May5eve.

Audio bulletins

The Gaon Ki Awaaz bulletins, which are broadcast twice a day on mobile phones, are also published on this blog. You can find the audio files, which are in Avadhi dialect, arranged date-wise under their respective months. You can also browse the English translations of selected bulletins. These are filed under their respective categories.

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