MUZAFFARPUR: In a state where beating up and killing of women after branding them as witches is common, an all-women "news channel" is creating waves in the rural backwaters of Bihar.
"Appan Samachar" (Our News), an all-women weekly news programme, is a hit in Ramlila Gachhi and its adjoining villages in Paru Block of Muzaffarpur District ever since its launch last month.
Unlike flashy studios of private news channels, its rural cousin works from an asbestos-roofed room having a wooden table, two chairs and a portable TV.
Its reporters, Ruby Kumari and Anita Kumari (both 20), move around Ramlila Gachhi and its adjoining villages six days a week carrying a Sony handycam, a tripod and a microphone in hand to gather news. Later, they show a 45-minute bulletin on the TV using a video cassette player powered by a battery, at the weekly fair in the village.
"In our channel, we cover activities relating to development, women empowerment and human rights," says 18-year-old Khushbu Singh, a eleventh standard student.
The village has no electricity, no landline phone connections and the mobile phone service reached it only last year.
"We have so far been funding the channel through our own resources, but now hope to get some revenue from the local traders whose activities we report," says Ruby, who along with Anita, is studying in BA first year from a college in Sahebganj here.
Asked whether they had ambition to make it to a national TV news channel some day, both Ruby and Khushbu said "yes" in unison.
"We don't have any formal training so we are learning it on the job. We hope, our faces will be on a national TV channel some day," the two, who report and anchor for "Appan Samachar" said.
The fourth member of the team, Ruma Devi (35), a housewife, moves with the reporters in the interiors of the villages and carries their tripod.
Santosh Sarang, director of 'Mission I International Service', an NGO, came up with the idea to highlight the problems of women residents in the interior of the villages where national media seldom reaches.
Moreover, with women reporters the communication becomes easier with the females in the villages, the reporters said.