Social media songs, videos, memes woo Rajasthan tribals for Covid vaccination
Across the tribal belt of southern Rajasthan, the district administrations are relying on memes, posters, and catchy songs produced in the local Wagdi language to dispel vaccine hesitancy and Covid-19 myths.
Officials in Banswara and Dungarpur said that it was important to weave Covid-19 awareness into tribal culture through storytelling because a myth was spreading that different vaccines were used for people in cities and villages.
District collector, Dungarpur, Suresh Kumar Ola said the administration roped in several Wagdi social content creators and YouTubers to push as much Covid-19 information as possible. “I contacted all content creators with 1 lakh viewers, their videos and posts are getting scores of viewers every day now,” he said.
Local booth level officers (BLOs), block development officers (BDOs) and Sarpanchs forwarded messages in Wagdi that requested people in local phrases to visit vaccination centers. “So far, we have inoculated a significant percentage of elderly citizens through online messaging,” he said.
Messages like “Kaka Jaju, Kaki Jaju, vaccination Karvi Avju” (Kaka and Kaki please come for the vaccination) have gone viral.
Another message, “Avigyo Tiko Korona No, Jaldi Jaldi Ladado Re,” (Corona vaccination is here, get the jab soon).
Bharat Kumar, a native of Sagwara in Dungarpur district said that Wagdi, also known as Vaghri, is spoken across several tribal-dominated villages of southern Rajasthan.
“I am presently living in Udaipur, yet I receive WhatsApp messages in Wagdi about the pandemic and vaccination. They have also made some really hilarious memes,” he said, adding that some of the prominent names on YouTube also regularly make shows on covid-19.
According to Ola, the social media campaign has now reached far away areas.
District collector, Banswara, Ankit Kumar Singh said his social media group now reaches out to 2 Lakh people. “We decided that the best way to remove hesitancy was to speak to local leaders and Sarpanches and get them vaccinated. When their photos receiving vaccination went viral, a lot of people came forward,” he said, adding that new social media messaging is now being also used to spread the latest information on Covid-19.
A senior police official posted in Dungarpur said there was a growing fear amongst tribal villages that vaccination may lead to impotency, but many of those rumours have largely subsided.
“Tribal areas rely heavily on Bhopas (quacks) and chieftains, they don’t like outsiders, therefore, these social media campaigns in their own language felt like they were personally and respectfully addressed,” the official said.