23 February 2004, The Hindu

At a time when no newspaper used to reach remote villages of any State in the country, Pradeep Mehta started publishing a poster-sized newspaper from Jaipur called “Gram Gadar” (Village Revolution), Soon, this wall-newspaper became very popular in rural areas of Rajasthan and seeing the growing demand of “Gram Gadar”. Mr. Mehta established Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS).

While the publication of “Gram Gadar” was discontinued for a while, CUTS relaunched this popular wall newspaper in January 1994 with support from the Ford Foundation. “The main objectives of Gram Gadar has been to increase the awareness of the poor people of the village and weaker sections of society, especially the oppressed classes like the tribals, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes,” says Mr. Metha, adding it also aims to awaken and educate the rural women about their legal and constitutional rights and encourage them ot fight for it by providing legal information to them. For this purpose, “Gram Gadar” has two sections ā€“ “Consumer Decisions” and “Legal Rights”.

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, “Gram Gadar” ā€“ which has inspired many other wall newspapers and alternate magazines in the rural areas of the country ā€“ publishes the general problems of the rural people in the from of the changing times and awaken them. It also informs villagers about the rural development schemes of the Government; analyses these schemes; encourages them to work together by coalescing them; draws their attention towards the health and health-related problems of the village; educate and sensitise them about the basic needs and draw the attention of the local administration to these issues.

“Gram Gadar” is sent every month to people in the rural areas of Chittorgarh, Ajmer, Bundi, Bhilwara, Udaipur and Koto districts in Rajastahn. And without doubt, the adage “Information is Power” has been proved right through this wall-newspaper. Rural people are now better informed about their rights and they find consumer court decisions and other legal information published in different editions of “Gram Gadar” very interesting.

Also, the arrival of “Gram Gadar” in various rural areas and questions raised under the ‘Nigrani’ section has led to an increased activity in the working of the Government departments. Where mere announcements of various schemes were made, now the bureaucrats are busy in implementing them. And yes, readers of “Gram Gadar” now strongly believe that this would help in removing the inertia of the Government departments and undertakings. Truly, “Gram Gadar” has in its own way furthered Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of village republics.