Knight International Fellow Wins Another Tech Award For "Voice of Chhattisgarh" Project

Oct 282010

A project developed by Knight International Journalism Fellow Shubhranshu Choudhary has won a technology award in India that recognizes unique initiatives to improve information sharing and citizen services through social media and Web 2.0 developments.

The 2010 India eGov 2.0 Award for Social Media Useage was presented Oct. 28 to Choudhary for his CGNet Swara , or “Voice of Chhattisgarh” project. “Voice of Chhatisgarh” enables trained citizen journalists in the remote Chhattisgarh region of India to produce news reports that local villagers listen to on their cell phones. For many tribal communities, where few people have access to computers, the Internet or even traditional media, the cell phone news service represents the first time they can receive news in their native languages. Audio reports are also posted on a Web site , providing news on the Chhattisgarh region to a larger, international audience.

The “Voice of Chhattisgarh” project was one of 45 entries in the Social Media Initiatives category, and the first of three winning projects.

“For a variety of reasons, it is very challenging for people in the central, tribal region of India to get the news through traditional means such as newspaper, radio or television, so it was critically important to find some way to bridge this gap,” said Choudhary. “Over the last few years, even in the poorest areas, mobile phone penetration has increased tremendously. This represented an opportunity for us to help villagers access the news in their own language with just the touch of a button.”

Earlier this year, the “Voice of Chhattisgarh” project was one of four winners in the first mBillionth South Asia Awards for cell phone innovation.