The glamour of the electronic media is no longer confined to the metros. Just ask Ruby Kumari and Anita Kumari, two college girls from Ramlila Gachi in Paru block of Bihar's Muzaffarpur district, who are the creators of Appan Samachar (Our News), an all-women ‘news channel'.
The duo, operating from an area where national newspapers and TV channels seldom reach, move on bicycles, carrying a Sony Handycam, a tripod and a microphone to gather news. And no, their 45-minute weekly news programme is not broadcast from a flashy studio. Instead, their ‘studio' is a simple asbestosroofed room with a wooden table, two chairs and a portable TV .
They shoot local issues and broadcast their footage at the weekly village haat (market) using a compact disc powered by a battery, "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," said Ruby Both girls harbour ambitions of making it to a national TV news channel some day .
The channel also has two other workers - Khushbu Singh, an eleventh standard student and Ruma Devi (35), a housewife who carries the reporters' tripod.
According to Muzaffarpur District Magistrate Vinay Kumar, "This is a great achievement. Apart from the growing professionalism in rural girls, it shows their innovativeness, social advancement and enthusiasm to break free of the tradition."
Muzaffarpur Superintendent of Police Ratn Sanjay said: "It is women empowerment at its best. Having begun so young, these girls are destined to go places. It's a per fect example of young girls nurturing a free spirit even in the hinterland."
Mukhiya of the Chand Kewari panchayat, Binod Shah, is also happy with the media spotlight on these girls and said: "I am willing to support and help their cause. These girls are doing a fantastic job."
The girls credit Santosh Sarang, director of NGO Mission I International Service for coming up with the initial idea of local women reporting on the problems of rural residents.
Having shown the way, these girls are certainly not looking back.