Studies have shown that almost 80% of the Indian population is offline for most practical purposes; and a big percentage of this group does not have access to mainstream media channels either (like newspapers, radio, and television). Given this, at Gram Vaani, we believe in using appropriate technology and people driven processes to build participatory media networks that can empower communities. Our Theory of Change has organically evolved from the ground up and is based on our experience of working in the rural Information, Communication and Technology space over the last few years.
The following figure depicts how Mobile Vaani leads to –
- improved awareness about rights and entitlements,
- demand for services (individual/family/collective demand), and subsequently
- improvement in the self and collective action
- better accountability of various stakeholders
Our Theory of Change reflects how we build and strengthen social accountability of stakeholders and ensure transparency in the governance processes. For instance, government institutions in India offer multiple social security entitlements to rural and urban low-income communities such as the Public Distribution System, National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), Direct Benefit Transfer-linked schemes including PM-KISAN, Jan Dhan, MGNREGA, BOCW, and Provident Fund. Yet, there has been extensive documentation of exclusion of deserving people from availing these social protection measures. These excluded individuals are often encouraged to record their grievances on Mobile Vaani. The Gram Vaani team then ensures that these grievances are handled by a network of community volunteers, who interact with concerned government or panchayat officials or provide online assistance to the people to help solve their problems.
Mobile Vaani platforms can reach ‘media dark’ areas and help in bridging the gap left by communication that relies on mass media. The IVR system engages listeners in real time and can be used as an indicator to understand changes in mindset brought about by the programmes.
As a community media platform, Mobile Vaani heavily emphasizes on creating and featuring new and engaging content to retain its users so that they feel motivated to access the platform on a regular basis. Content is created in the studio by our content team, or is user-generated, reactions, feedback, and experiences shared by users who listen to our published content on the Mobile Vaani platforms. There is a mix of contextual content that is local and relatable, and complete content – with an attempt to get a 360-degree view of a particular issue, from community members to officials, for instance. This mix effectively helps us reach out to diverse communities with information, opinions and perspectives on issues that matter to them.