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Know how Charubala Barik turned Twitter into a helpline for the needy

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Charubala Barik is Odisha’s Twitter Queen, who was never tech-savvy. However, she has turned Twitter into a platform to raise the grievances of the impoverished.

Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was always considered to be just a tweet away from assisting India’s enormous diaspora. Without a cabinet position, Charubala Barik, a peasant from Temri in Odisha, has gone to Twitter and turned it into a hotline for the impoverished.

The 25-year-old postgraduate student is somewhat of a celebrity, having helped thousands of individuals resolve claims, some of which had been lingering for years.

Deepa has assisted everyone from elderly folks waiting for their pensions to individuals who lost their houses in the cyclone to migrants trapped in another state. “Because I come from a lower-middle-class household and because very few people in my village have cell phones, I have experienced and watched the hardships of the impoverished,” she adds.

Deepa, the daughter of a farmer and an Anganwadi worker, was never particularly tech-savvy or active on social media. Her parents gave her an Android phone for her birthday in 2019. Soon after, Dibas Kumar Sahu, a local social activist, introduced her to the Twitter app and other social networking sites.

“He explained that I could use Twitter to tag and interact with high government officials and seek assistance from the appropriate department,” Deepa recalls.

She also became aware of the state government’s 5T initiative. “The My Government project is another effort tied to the 5T concept.

“The concept empowers the weakest and poorest members of society to directly give comments and raise their concerns with higher-ups,” she explains.

Deepa made advantage of these resources to help a vast number of people.

“I’ve always wanted to help people around me, and technology combined with social media enabled me to do so,” she adds.

“Cyclone Fani caused tremendous harm in the next community,” she says in her first success story from 2019. The Block Development Officer visited the hamlet within 48 hours, did a survey, and by the end of the week, Soukilal had got Rs 98,000 to rebuild his destroyed house.

Soukilal’s spirits were elevated by the collision, and there has been no going back since. Later, she aided the elderly in becoming eligible for pensions and widows in receiving monetary assistance through the State Government’s Ashirvad Yojana.

She has also assisted handicapped people in receiving assistance under various programmes. Deepa describes another incident: “Some of the farmers in Bilaspur village were unable to irrigate their land because the check dam needed repairs.”

When I arrived at the place, I saw that the doors that were required to retain the water were damaged. The townspeople stated that they tried several times to get the attention of the responsible officials, but they refused to handle the farmer’s situation. However, Deepa tweeted about the problem, identifying the officials, and four days later, the check dam was repaired.

Deepa states that her social media network has assisted 5,000 individuals in and around her neighbourhood.

Laxman Lohar, a Hazarika native, says, “In October 2021, around 23 migrant labourers, including myself, travelled to Pedapalli in Telangana. He didn’t even provide us with food or drink on schedule.”

The owner began brutally punching us and treating us inhumanely. It got to the point where I wanted to give up on life. I was so tired of the horrors that I climbed up to a transformer to terminate my life and received a serious electric shock. In the event, I lost my right arm “he says.

That’s when one of the refugees discovered Deepa and approached her for assistance. Deepa instantly sent out a tweet notifying Telangana police, and all of the migrants were rescued within a few days.

So far, she has assisted over 1,000 labourers from her state who have become trapped in various regions of the country.

He say, her outstanding effort has won her the title of “Twitter queen” in the community.

Deepa does not constantly stand about waiting for people to approach her.” I go to communities and talk to folks to attempt to understand their difficulties. In addition, I read the local daily newspapers every morning to stay up to date on the issues affecting the community. I check the legitimacy of the concerns and bring it to the attention of the relevant officials via Twitter,” she continues.

“Many so-called ‘agents’ pledge to aid needy villagers in exchange for a fee,” she continues.

The intermediaries charge exorbitant fees and take months to complete a project. The problem is not always resolved.

A tweet bypasses them totally and links the petitioner directly with the government official. Initially, lower-rank officials were frequently irritated by addressing concerns with higher-ups.

Deepa continues, “They are now cooperating with me.”

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