Dear Reader,

As the year ends, we look back at the 52 issues of 2023, including the current, with fulfilment and satisfaction. In the year past, IPSMF grantees have hunkered down on their deep-reported journalism even as they find new and emerging issues, geographies and aspirations to report on.

The work of the Foundation’s grantees have spread light on under-reported topics – the legal system, technology policy, the aspirations and travails of citizens in the hinterlands – and, of course, on debunking fake news and misinformation.

We take delight in noting that this fearless and focused journalism of our grantees is recognised, awarded and feted, by independent institutions of repute, both nationally and globally.

As we move into the new year, we continue to be committed to supporting grantees that practice the Five Core Values of Journalism – accuracy, independence, impartiality, humanity and accountability.

In this last issue of the IPSMF newsletter for 2023, we look at stories produced by grantees over the past week, beginning with one on the Kerala High Court’s relatively unsung and unheralded effort, to mould the judiciary into an institution that is transparent, effective and easily accessible to the ordinary citizen.

The Supreme Court Observer profiles the initiative of the Kerala High Court which has taken seminal strides -- using the crutch of technology and venturing beyond the mere cosmetic, to go ‘digitally native.’ Last month, the Kerala High Court became the first court in the land to facilitate the filing of petitions through a mobile app and introduce machine scrutiny of bail applications.

The Indian Monsoon, a critical and consequential event for farmers, has played truant this year, and the farmers in Maharashtra have been at the receiving end of its vagaries. Article 14 brings you a ground report on what seems an inevitable cycle of drought, debt and distress that farmers face in the state. "First 40 talukas, then an additional 1,021 village clusters" have been severely impacted and declared drought-affected. As fears of a water crisis grow, indebted farmers are migrating away in search of livelihood and sustenance.

The mid-day meal schemes in various states of India have proven to be a successful intervention in providing school children with nutritious food, and thereby inducing them to stay engaged in their education. However, the effort to centralise the kitchens that produce these meals has been marked by mixed results, as Mojo Story found in West Singhbhum, in the tribal parts of Jharkhand. A year-long experiment on a centralised kitchen has produced bland and contaminated food, unfit for human consumption, and especially toxic for young children.

In a world where ChatGPT is set to rule, a fascinating effort is being made to build an open-source AI model for content in Telugu – ‘Swecha.’ MediaNama reports on this 'movement’ that is seen to be among the "first Indic language models created by an Indian start-up" to provide a vernacular alternative to players like the OpenAI. This will create a template and pave the way for a Large Language Model for Indian languages to join the AI mainstream.

And, on behalf of IPSMF and its trustees, I wish you a happy new year and hope that the coming year will be one of fulfilment and joy for the citizens in whose cause the independent media is sworn to strive.

For more such stories from the grantees this week, please read on.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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Marching in a single file

Two months back, the Kerala High Court became the first to allow e-filing of applications through mobile apps and begin machine scrutiny of bail applications. The Supreme Court Observer brings you the quest.

Read Here

Promises To Farmers Dry Up, As Maharashtra Enters Another Season Of Drought, Debt & Rural Distress

Maharashtra has seen both extremes this year, rampant drought followed by unseasonal rains, as the vagaries of the Monsoon catch up with the state. This has led to the migration of farmers in search of sustenance. Article 14 reports on the farmers' plight.

Read Here

Mid-Day Meal: ‘खाद्य सुरक्षा जन अधिकार मंच’ की सर्वे रिपोर्ट ने ‘केन्द्रीकृत किचन’ के भोजन की गुणवत्ता पर खड़े किए सवाल

Mid-day meals in government schools, in West Singhbhum in Bihar, were cooked every day in each school. However, Mojo Story reports that the move to centralised cooking and distribution, since January this year, has raised questions on the quality of food and the sagacity of the move.

Read Here

Reviving Telugu Folklore With AI: How Swecha Is Creating A Telugu Chatbot

MediaNama reports on a unique attempt to create a local-language AI model, in Telugu, that will help make computing more accessible to the last village.

Read Here

More from the grantees
कोरोना काल में बना Kishanganj Sadar Hospital का ऑक्सीजन प्लांट महीनों से बंद
An oxygen plant begun during Covid, in Kishanganj district's Sadar Hospital in Bihar, has remained shut for many months due to lack of electricity. Oxygen cylinders are being brought from 100 km away, from neighbouring West Bengal, मैं मीडिया reports.
Kashmir Heritage in Peril: Over 7,000 Artefacts Collected by Women's Empowerment Icon Neglected
The Probe details how a heritage museum in Kashmir, started by an educationist and showcasing rare manuscripts, ethnic jewellery and pottery, is neglected and in disrepair due to lack of funds.
New Challenges for NREGA in Telangana
The working of the MGNREGA scheme, calibrated to ensure 100 days of wage employment a year for adult rural households, is floundering in Telangana after the recent policy changes and budget cuts initiated by the Centre. The India Forum analyses the issues.
INKISHAF | Why are MBAs & MSW degree holders not eligible to work in Rural Sanitation?
The Kashmir Observer brings us the curious case of how the qualifications for employment in the government's rural waste management programs inexplicably exclude graduates specialising in social work or even in business administration, while IT graduates pass muster.

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