The Covid-19 induced lockdown has brought India’s tourism industry to a grinding halt. Rural communities have lost their livelihoods, supply chains have been disrupted and alternate income streams have thinned. Experts anticipate that the effect will be felt for upto a year or longer. Voices of Rural India is an effort to turn this unprecedented crisis into an opportunity to create alternate livelihoods by upgrading digital skills in rural India, while also preserving grassroots knowledge that is slowly disappearing. Voices of Rural India is a not-for-profit digital initiative to host curated stories by rural storytellers. Unlike most existing online platforms, the stories of rural India will be told directly in rural voices. In the short-term, Voices of Rural India aims to create a revenue stream for affected communities through digital journalism. It will help develop digital storytelling skills using basic tools at the grassroots level, with a focus on women and the youth. In the long run, Voices of Rural India aims to become a repository of oral traditions, local folklore and the culture of rural India, documented in local voices. The digital skills thus acquired can be used to support rural entrepreneurship ventures. Creators who show promise in writing, photography and video can be supported for professional opportunities in the creative space.
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