People's Archive of Rural India

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People's Archive of Rural India
People's Archive of Rural India logo
Logo of People's Archive of Rural India
Type of site
Digital Journalism
Available inEnglish, Assamese, Urdu, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil
FoundedDecember 2, 2014; 8 years ago (2014-12-02)
Area servedOnline
OwnerCounterMedia Trust
Created byPalagummi Sainath
Namita Waikar
Binaifer Barucha
Sharmila Joshi
Siddharth Adelkar
Zahra Latif
Subuhi Jiwani
Aditya Dipankar
Samyukta Shastri
Sinchita Maji
Shalini Singh
Jyoti Shinoli
Vishaka George
EditorPalagummi Sainath
LaunchedDec 20, 2014
Current statusActive

The People's Archive of Rural India (PARI /ˈpɑːri/) is a multimedia digital journalism platform in India. It was founded in December 2014 by veteran journalist Palagummi Sainath, former rural affairs editor of The Hindu, author of the landmark book Everybody Loves a Good Drought and winner of over 50 national and international awards, including the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting (1994), the Prem Bhatia Memorial Prize (2004),[1] the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award (2009),[2] the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization’s Boerma Prize (2000), the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communications Arts (2007),[3] and the World Media Summit Global Award for Excellence 2014, in Public Welfare reporting.[4]

PARI focuses on rural journalism[5] – which the mainstream or dominant news media usually ignore or give little space to – and publishes stories, videos and photo stories in numerous categories, including, Farming and its Crisis, Adivasis, Dalits, Women, Healthcare, The Rural in the Urban and Resource Conflicts.[6] It showcases the occupational, linguistic and cultural diversity of India, and aims to publish stories with detail and authenticity, which provide readers, listeners and viewers with a context to derive information and knowledge from.[7]

PARI stories are usually translated into various Indian languages[8] by a team of translators and translation editors across India, most of them volunteers. PARI regularly publishes in 10 languages besides the default English.

Additionally, PARI hosts a free online Library[9] with a growing collection of reports, surveys and other material relevant to understanding and contextualising rural India. And the site attempts to map the facial diversity across India through its unique FACES[10] section.

N. Ram, former editor-in-chief and publisher of The Hindu referred to PARI as "…one of the brightest spots of public-spirited journalism” at the Lawrence Dana Pinkham Memorial Lecture on May 3, 2016.[11] "This is an insane project – and a wonderful one," said Neville Roy Singham, then Chairman of ThoughtWorks Inc.


PARI is unique in its focus on and extensive documentation of rural Indian lives and livelihoods.[12] Its coverage draws on the extensive work spanning more than three decades of founder-editor P. Sainath on the agrarian economy and current devastating agrarian and water crisis in rural India. PARI reporters include Jaideep Hardikar, Purusottam Thakur, Parth M. N., Aparna Karthikeyan, Arpita Chakrabarty and Anubha Bhonsle.

The content at People's Archive of Rural India is contributed by volunteers, students, journalists and by PARI fellows. PARI contributors have also included award-winning[13] journalists like Madhusree Mukerjee, Priyanka Kakodkar, Shalini Singh and Chitrangada Choudhury.

The archive documents rapidly-disappearing languages like the Saimar language which had only 7 speakers left at the time of publication.[14] This part of a larger project of documenting endangered languages. The "Resources" section of PARI contains curated and credible reports on rural India along with a focus and factoids that PARI's team of researchers produce.

PARI Fellows and fellowships[edit]

The People’s Archive of Rural India aims to position a PARI Fellow in every single one of the country’s roughly 100 regions, most of which are untouched by the ‘national’ media. The Fellows could be reporters, writers, filmmakers, photographers and everyday residents of the regions. The network of Fellows that PARI builds will also reflect the social composition of the country. Half of the nearly 100 Fellows will be women. And Dalit journalists, Adivasi journalists and those from the minorities will also be represented in a fair manner. Each PARI Fellow works on a specific region for a year, spending at least three months full-time in fieldwork amongst the region’s people and communities. PARI has had 24 Fellows since 2015, who have reported stories from over 30 regions. Some of the PARI Fellows are – Anubha Bhonsle (2015 & 2019), Purusottam Thakur (2015),[15] Arpita Chakrabarty (2016), Ratna Bharali Talukdar (2016), Ritayan Mukherjee (2016),[16] Urvashi Sarkar (2016),[17] Bhasha Singh (2017), Parth M. N. (2017),[18] Rahul M. (2017), M. Palani Kumar (2019)[19] and Sanket Jain (2019).[20]


  • PARI stories are used as teaching material in undergraduate and post-graduate courses at various universities in India and abroad. These include the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Ashoka University, Visvabharati University, and South Asia Studies departments at US universities – and numerous other educational institutions.[31] [32]
  • A group of journalists in Karnataka – including G. N. Mohan – brought out a PARI Reader – Ee ‘Pari’ya Sobagu in Kannada on July 1, 2016. Many of these stories have found their way into district newspapers, some of which may not have web editions.
  • People’s Archive of Rural Nova Scotia (PARNS)[33] says on its site that it takes inspiration from PARI.[34] Another such initiative is Janaavishkara, a people’s participatory portal in Kerala.

Additionally, various PARI stories have had a wide range of impacts. Some of these are:

  • Good enough to vote, not enough for Aadhaar (March, 2018) an article by Puja Awasthi, was cited in Justice D. Y. Chandrachud’s September 26, 2018 Supreme Court judgement on Aadhaar. The story documents the problems faced by persons with leprosy who have been denied pensions because they were unable to get enrolled in the Aadhaar system. The article notes that the Aadhaar process can bring about a denial of benefits.[35]
  • Kali: The dancer and his dreams (June, 2014) is a story by Aparna Karthikeyan, about a male dancer from Tamil Nadu, from a Dalit community, who has mastered Bharatanatyam and three other folk dance-forms. Kali has since won several awards, and has been featured in several publications.[36] After Aparna’s story Small farmer, big heart, miracle bike (March, 2016) about Chandra Subramanian – a single mom, cultivator and retailer in Sivagangai district, Tamil Nadu – Chandra has been featured in several publications, and received an award. Many people have reached out to assist her in significant ways.[37] [38]
  • The last post – and a bridge too far[39] (June, 2016), a story about a post office in Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand, by Arpita Chakrabarty (2016 PARI Fellow) was picked up widely on social media immediately on publishing. Within four days of the article being published, Pitthorgarh — where people sometimes travelled 70 kilometres to collect their mail — finally had its own post office.[40]
  • What’s in a name? The agonies of Aadhaar (January, 2018), which Rahul M. (2017 PARI Fellow) wrote from Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, is about a typographical error in a schoolgirl’s Aadhaar card that cost her a primary school scholarship. The problem was resolved after PARI published this story.[41] [42]
  • Copying our designs is not correct (May, 2019) by Priti David is about how despite a GI certification the distinctive Toda embroidery of the Nilgiris was being widely copied. The story led to the case being taken up by Poompuhar, the Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd. It has also been used as a case study in the National Institute of Fashion Design, and in other design schools.[43] [44] [45]
  • In their story Sowing the seeds of climate crisis in Odisha (October, 2019) Chitrangada Choudhury and Aniket Aga spoke of how the increase in Bt-cotton acreage in Odisha’s Rayagada district was causing an alarming ecological shift in the region. After it was published, Odisha’s Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production asked all district officers in a letter to create awareness among farmers about the restriction on the use of glyphosate and Paraquat dichloride.[46] [47]
  • Gauri Adelkar, a writer and director based between the US and Mumbai, made a short film in 2018 called The Little Goddess – inspired by PARI’s coverage of Bahurupi artists in West Bengal. The film features 12-year-old Durga and her family, who depend on Bahurupi – a vanishing performance art – to survive.[48] [49]
  • When ‘Salihan’ took on the Raj (August, 2015) by P. Sainath (Founder Editor, PARI) speaks of Demathi Dei Sabar, freedom fighter from Odisha’s Nuapada district, who took on an armed British officer with a lathi. Rahul Ramanathan (then a 13-year-old from Ahmedabad, Gujarat) retold her story in pictures in a PARI book called Salihan.[50]


PARI has won 30 awards since its launch in December 2014. WAN-IFRA’s South Asian Digital Media Awards in the category 'Best Special Project for Covid-19', the Laadli Media and Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity, Prem Bhatia Award for Journalism on Environment and Development issues, the Ramnath Goenka Award and the Silver Lotus (Rajat Kamal) at the 63rd National Film Awards are some of the accolades that PARI has received. The full list so far:

People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI): Awards received from 2015 to 2021
S.No. Year Institution Name of Award (and criteria as stated in the official citations)
30 2021 Fukuoka City Foundation and Citizens of the City P. Sainath wins the Fukuoka Grand Prize for his outstanding journalism and as the founder of PARI. The award is conferred every year to honour individuals who have made contributions to the fields of Asian studies, Asian art and Asian culture.[51]
29 2021 ACJ Journalism Awards PARI Women’s Health series wins the Special Mention award in the Investigative Journalism category for stories published in the series in the year 2020. The award goes to: Kavitha Muralidharan, Anubha Bhonsle, Priti David, Amruta Byatnal, Jyoti Shinoli, Sanskriti Talwar, Pallavi Prasad, Medha Kale and Jigyasa Mishra for their stories from February to November 2020 in the series: PARI series on women’s health.[52]
28 2021 Spoortidhamma P. Sainath wins the Bodhivruksha Award for his journalism work and as the founder of PARI. The award is conferred every year on people who have dedicated their lives to enable and empower the socially excluded communities through their meaningful interventions.[53]
27 2020 WAN-IFRA ‘s South Asian Digital Media Awards The PARI Team won the silver prize of WAN-IFRA’s South Asian Digital Media Awards, 2020. PARI bagged the Silver in the category 'Best Special Project for Covid-19'. Beginning from the last week of March, PARI has published nearly 150 landmark stories and documents related to impact of the lockdown on the livelihoods and daily lives of the most marginalised segments of India.[54]
26 2020 Press Institute of India-International Committee of the Red Cross media award PARI Reporter Jigyasa Mishra won a Press Institute of India-International Committee of the Red Cross media award for her story Footprints of protest in the sands of a mine (June 6, 2020) in the category Best Article on a Humanitarian Subject. The story records the courageous and inspirational battle of women farmers to save the Ken, one of Bundelkhand’s major rivers, from the depredations of a sand mining mafia.[55]
25 2020 Laadli Media and Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity PARI Reporter Jyoti Shinoli won a Laadli Media and Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity, 2020 for the story No crime, unending punishment (August 10, 2018), a searing account of the unending persecution of the Pardhis, a de-notified tribe.[56]
24 2020 Prem Bhatia Memorial Trust, New Delhi The PARI Team won the Prem Bhatia Award for journalism on Environment and Development issues “for its extensive field reports, including climate change effects and the impact of the pandemic on rural India.”[57]
23 2020 Public Relations Council of India, Bengaluru PARI Fellow M. Palani Kumar won the Communicator of the Year – Best Story of the Year award for Tamil Nadu’s seaweed harvesters in rough seas (October 31, 2019). This is a photo story about an unusual activity of the fisherwomen of Bharathinagar in Tamil Nadu, which keeps them more in the water than on boats. And how climate change and overexploitation of marine resources are eroding their livelihoods.
22 2020 Public Relations Council of India, Bengaluru PARI Reporter Jyoti Shinoli won the Communicator of the Year – Best Content of the Year award for her story Pardhi school bull-dozed by Prosperity Highway (June 17, 2019). The story is about a school in Amravati district, Maharashtra, started by a Phanse Pardhi teacher for kids from his long-stigmatised and impoverished community, which was demolished on June 6, 2019, leaving them anxious and uncertain.
21 2019 Press Institute of India and the International Committee of the Red Cross, New Delhi PARI Fellow Urvashi Sarkar won the first prize in the Best Article category for her article ‘Our houses are vanishing. Nobody cares’ (July 20, 2018). The story tracks climate-related displacement and looks at the migration of people between Sagar and Ghoramara Islands in West Bengal, and the vanishing of islands, homes and livelihoods.[58]
20 2019 Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2019 PARI Fellow Yashaswini Raghunandan’s film was selected for the INDIA GOLD category at the festival, for her film That Cloud Never Left.[59]
19 2019 FILAF film festival, Perpignan, France: Festival International du Livre d'Art et du Film PARI Fellow Yashaswini Raghunandan won the GOLD FILAF at the FILAF film festival in France (Festival International du Livre d'Art et du Film)[60] for her film That Cloud Never Left.[61]
18 2019 Tutti I Premi Del Pesaro Film Fest, Pesaro, Italy PARI Fellow Yashashwini Raghunandan received a special mention for the film That Cloud Never Left at this festival in Pesaro, Italy.[62]
17 2019 Mumbai Press Club PARI Reporter Jyoti Shinoli won the Red Ink Award in the Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality category for her story Collecting 6,000 leaves a day for a living (May 3, 2018).[63]
16 2019 Indian Express Group, New Delhi PARI Fellow Parth M. N. won the Ramnath Goenka Award (in the Uncovering India Invisible category) for his series of stories on Marathwada published on PARI.[64]
15 2018 The Statesman, Kolkata PARI Author Puja Awasthi won the Statesman Prize for Rural Reporting for two stories published on PARI: Beaten but unbowed – Sunanda Sahoo's silent struggle (July 5, 2017). and Drums and dreams beyond pickle and papad (August 3, 2017).[65]
14 2018 Population First, New Delhi PARI Fellow Urvashi Sarkar received the Laadli Media and Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity, 2017, in the Features category for her story Widowed by tigers, abandoned by the state, (October 12, 2017).[66]
13 2018 European Commission, Brussels, Belgium PARI Fellow Parth M. N. received the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize for the story Cutting cane for 2000 hours (February 6, 2018).[67]
12 2018 South Asian Short Film Festival, Kolkata 15 of PARI’s video films were selected for SASFF-2018: 13 films in the Competition Documentary category and 2 in the Official Panorama category. (For more on this see below.)
11 2018 Parigi Hanumantha Rao Foundation, Andhra Pradesh PARI Fellow Rahul M. received the Parigi Hanumantha Rao journalism award for 2017-2018, for his stories published on PARI.[68]
10 2018 Vasant Vyakhyanmala, Pune, Maharashtra The first Justice M. G. Ranade Award (inaugural year), recognising the unique nature of the new journalism “initiative called the People’s Archive of Rural India.”[69]
9 2017 Sri Murugamath, Vhitradurga, Karnataka The Basavashree Award for “service rendered through the People’s Archive of Rural India to the rural folk in the way of a Journalism Movement.”[70]
8 2017 Appan Menon Memorial Committee, New Delhi Appan Menon Memorial Award for “the work being done by the People’s Archive of Rural India to document life in rural India.”
7 2017 C-Shell Media and Literary Awards, Dubai C-Shell Journalism Prize, for “extraordinary and in-depth reporting of rural India and the unique achievement that is PARI.”[71]
6 2017 Kesari Mahratta Trust and Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak award for Excellence in Journalism to P. Sainath/PARI (recognising his launch of PARI)[72]
5 2016 Anant Bhalerao Smriti Foundation, Aurangabad The Anant Bhalerao Smriti Puraskar for “incisive reporting of rural India, the People’s Archive of Rural India and its approach to boosting journalism in Indian languages.”
4 2016 Krantisinh Nana Patil Foundation, Sangli, Maharashtra Krantisinh Nana Patil Memorial Award to P. Sainath (recognising, also, the importance of PARI).
3 2016 National Film Awards, Government of India, New Delhi PARI Fellows (2015) Nidhi Kamath and Keya Vaswani received the Silver Lotus (Rajat Kamal) for the Best Promotional Film at the 63rd National Film Awards 2016 for their film Weaves of Maheshwar (published on PARI on May 2, 2016).[73]
2 2016 Praful Bidwai Memorial Committee, New Delhi The first Praful Bidwai Memorial Prize for “his reportage and commentary on agrarian distress and the source of information and inspiration that is PARI.”[74]
1 2015 Population First, Mumbai PARI Fellow (2015) Purusottam Thakur received the Laadli Media and Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity 2014-15 in the Best Investigative Story category for the story, Making history, heading for a hundred (published on PARI on March 20, 2015).[75]
Special Mention In April 2020, the United States Library of Congress informed us that they had selected the PARI website for inclusion in their web archives: "We consider your website to be an important part of this collection and the historical record."[76]

South Asian Short Film Festival 2018 and 2019

For the South Asian Short Film Festival in 2018, 15 PAI films were selected – 13 for the Competition Documentary category, and 2 for the Official Panorama Viewing category. These films ranged in duration from 6 to 18 minutes and were shot in Hindi, Bengali, Odia, Marathi, Malayalam, Ladakhi, Manipuri and Tamil. Some of the selected films were Tussar: the crumbling cocoon by Shreya Katyayini, Mending boats with music by V Sasikumar, The fading weaves of Duajhar by Purusottam Thakur, Ima Keithel: every day is women’s day by Anubha Bhonsle and others and Threadbare in Santipur by Sinchita Maji.[77]

The South Asian Short Film Festival in 2019 selected five PARI films/videos for its Competition Documentary category. The films were shot in Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Manipuri and Hindi. The selected films were Ganpati Yadav's gripping life cycle by Sinchita Maji, Possessed by his art, a Bahurupi transforms by Ankan Roy and others, I feel so happy to see the paddy growing by Vishaka George and others, Into the chakshangs of Imphal by Anubha Bhonsle and others and Farming doesn't give us our sustenance by Subuhi Jiwani.[78]


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