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Northeast India’s video documentation hub coaching youth in conservation

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Kolkata: Digitally archiving wildlife and environment is a key resource in conservation, says environmental filmmaker Rita Banerji, who kick-started northeast India’s first youth and community based video documentation centre in Tezpur, Assam.

The Green Hub centre in Tezpur trains as many as 20 youths in video documentation, editing and photography to aid in recording the environment, wildlife, biodiversity Aand communities in northeast India.

“The first batch of students is now making short films and videos and a digital archive is being created. We offer a two-and-a-half month fellowship for which youngsters from remote and marginalised communities are selected. Experts in conservation coach them.”

“They can get into conservation through video documentation,” Banerji told IANS over the phone on Thursday.

Banerji, who won the Panda Award (Green Oscar) in 2010, alongwith co-director Shilpi Sharma for the film “The Wild Meat Trail”, said recording existing and disappearing biodiversity helps keep track and provides valuable information to stakeholders like NGOs and scientists who engage in conservation.

“Everybody who is working on ground has a camera and when they shoot wildlife they have a lot of footage lying around so the aim was how can we make use of those and make them openly accessible to the community so that they can protect their resources,” explained Banerji.

The Delhi-based filmmaker, who now divides her time between the national capital and the northeast, wishes to branch out to other regions, like the Odisha coast, for the video documentation hub.

Odisha coast has one of world’s largest nesting sites for the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles and is also Banerji’s focus areas.

“Turtle Diaries: The Olive Ridley Turtle” by Banerji, which won the ‘Film for Children’ award at the just-concluded eighth CMS Vatavaran festival, captures a stunning mass nesting event and shows how communities are assisting in conservation locally.

“The biggest threat to the turtles and wildlife in the coastal region is the disappearance of beaches due to development projects,” added Banerji.

(IANS)

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Assam’s Citizen Register Raises Concern of U.N. Human Rights Expert

Assam, a state of 33 million people known for its lush tea estates, has for decades been racked by violence between indigenous tribes and settlers.

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Assam
A woman, whose name is left out in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft, stands in a a line to collect forms to file appeals at a NRC Sewa Kendra (NSK) in Guwahati, Aug. 11, 2018. VOA

Three United Nations human rights experts expressed “deep concern” Thursday over a controversial citizens register in India’s Assam state, warning it could inflame ethnic tensions in an already fractious region.

A new draft Register of Citizens (NRC) in the northeastern state announced in July left off four million people, leaving them potentially stateless and facing an uncertain future.

Critics say it is the latest move by the right-wing party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bolster India’s Hindu majority at the expense of minorities. India will hold a national election next year.

assam
Bakrapara, Assam

The policy was introduced by the state government, which is controlled by the same BJP party in power nationally.

“We are… seriously concerned about the lack of clarity regarding what will happen to those left out of the finalized NRC,” said a joint statement from the UN special rapporteur on religious freedoms, Ahmed Shaheed, the rapporteur for minority rights, Fernand de Varennes and an expert on arbitrary detentions, Seong-Phil Hong.

“There is a risk that persons not part of the NRC could become stateless, be at risk of deportation, or be subject to large-scale migration detention,” they said.

The deadline to provide the necessary documents to be included on the register has been set for December 31.

Assam
Indian Muslim men shout slogans during a protest against tensions in India’s northeastern state of Assam, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 8, 2012.
Source:VOA

The current register includes only those who were able to prove they were in the state before 1971, when millions fled Bangladesh’s war of independence into the state, and their descendants.

Also Read: Firefighters of India Battle Air Pollution In The Country’s Capital

Assam, a state of 33 million people known for its lush tea estates, has for decades been racked by violence between indigenous tribes and settlers.

“It is feared that this entire process is increasing inter-ethnic tensions in a region that has already experienced a tumultuous history of identity-based conflicts,” de Varennes said. (VOA)