Quoted: on bringing mobile news to India’s poor

“Mobile is the most democratic tool in India today.”

Shubhranshu Choudhary, a journalist whose experiment in citizen journalism, called CGNet Swara, has allowed tribal people in remote parts of India to use mobile phones to record or listen to news. Mobile is key because many of the estimated 100 million “tribals,” according to CNN, do not read and write — but mobile-phone penetration in India is 74 percent. “It is the first communication platform of any type for these people,” Choudhary said. The recorded reports are verified for accuracy by editors and moderators. The Swara model has spawned similar systems in Indonesia, and is being used as an inspiration in Egypt and Afghanistan, says CNN. According to CGNet Swara’s website, the open-source voice-portal system was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is maintained with help from volunteers and Microsoft Research India.


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