Presenting Rang De’s new initiative, “Changemaker of the Month” we present a changemaker and their inspiring work every month. Our first story is about a website that focuses on spreading positive news in India and highlighting an India that we don’t very often see: The Better India.
In early 2010, The Better India featured Partho Bhowmick founder of Blind with Camera, an initiative that connects visually challenged individuals to photography as a medium to express themselves. While many people applauded this intriguing yet fascinating project, one particular response stood out. A woman wrote to The Better India informing them that she was visually challenged too and after reading the story, had decided to pursue her lifelong dream of photography! “That was the moment that stood out! We felt like we had made a ‘real’ difference,” says Dhimant Parekh, co-founder of The Better India. Thousands of such heartwarming and touching stories have been featured in The Better India since it was founded in July 2008.
The Better India founders Anuradha and Dhimant Parekh, both avid news followers, felt something was amiss in the Indian news scenario. Daily news was grimmer than hopeful and in the ever increasing exposure of news, the stories of change and empowerment hardly made the headlines! Thus, The Better India was born in 2008; a website that showcases Positive news, Happy Stories and Unsung Heroes with the aim to highlight exactly what their name suggests, the better India. An India that is not only about hard hitting facts, violence, corruption and exploitation but about change, empowerment, innovation and hope!
The Better India started as a blog featuring positive stories and linking them to other sites on the web. But over the last few years, it has been sourcing content from a pool of freelance writers, journalists, social workers and organizations. A team of 25 now, the areas being covered range from environmental conservation, heritage, wild life, travel, to development initiatives. The team also travels extensively to cover stories and have featured almost all the regions of the country, including the North East.
While the Better India’s popularity has grown largely due to word of mouth, Dhimant also believes that Social Media has also played its part in spreading the word. The Better India received the Manthan Award in 2011 for and the founders have been invited to speak at many universities, including IIM Ahmadabad. “These events provide a lot of visibility and many stories come out of them. The interactions with various people also help broaden our perspectives and help shape our vision,” says Dhimant.
Almost five years old now, The Better India has now overcome its initial obstacles of content generation and building a loyal readership. They currently have 8400 followers on Twitter and around 10,000 fans on Facebook. The main focus now is to reach out to a more diverse audience through vernacular stories and also feature many more initiatives in each area already covered.
For everybody that wants to start something on their own, Dhimant has only one advice to give. “If you have a gut feeling and a passion towards something, just do it! Things will evolve on their own and it will certainly change the way you think!” And change is what The Better India has been spreading through happy stories about unsung heroes. To get a dose of inspiration, visit The Better India.