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Reinstatement of Lower-Caste Cleaner Suspended for Being Near Hindu Idol



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Debraj Barik's reinstatement at Rajendra College, Bolangir, marks a triumph over caste bias. On October 2012, Debraj was suspended by the principal of the college for performing his cleaning duties close to a recently installed Hindu idol, an unpious act given his lower caste. Documenting and advocating Debraj's unjust suspension, Lambodar Takri's video led to community mobilization of 500 people, an official inquiry and his reinstatement. This victory, celebrated by the Dalit (lower caste) community, underscores the impact of media in challenging discrimination and heralds a collective win for social justice.

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In Bolangir, Odisha, a compelling narrative unfolded that not only addressed caste discrimination but also showcased the impact of community journalism on social justice. Lambodar Takri, a Community Correspondent for Video Volunteers, played a pivotal role in this transformation by documenting and advocating against the unjust suspension of Debraj Barik, a lower caste Dalit sweeper, from Rajendra Autonomous College for being near a Hindu idol while sweeping the college. Through strategic screenings and persistent efforts, Takri's campaign led to Barik's reinstatement, challenging deep-seated prejudices and promoting equality.


  • 50% role played by Video Volunteers in the outcome
  • The benefit to the broader community and educational institutions in terms of promoting equality and reducing discrimination is estimated at $20 per person affected, within a one-year time frame.


  • Restoration of Employment for Debraj Barik:
    • Direct Financial Benefit: Considering Debraj Barik's reinstatement, his annual income restoration is estimated at $1,500 (approximate salary of sweeper)
  • Community Empowerment and Awareness:
    • Estimated at $20 per person involved. 500 people saw the video on the campaign and took part in Debraj's reinstatement. Total value generated through empowerment and awareness is $20 * 500 = $10000

Total Estimated Benefits:

  • Total Community Empowerment and Awareness Benefit: $300/person for 500 people = $10,000
  • Restoration of Employment for Debraj Barik: $1,500
  • Overall Estimated Benefit: $11,500

Counterfactual Analysis:

  • As Debraj was suspended 2 years earlier, we attribute a significant role (50%) to the efforts of Video Volunteers and their correspondent Lambodar Takri. 
  • Counterfactual Impact Value: 50% of $11,500 = $5,750

Cost of Story is $1,470 , obtained by dividing the annual budget for video volunteers in 2014 ($306,281) with the total number of impact reports they produced in that year (209). 

Benefit/Cost Ratio:

  • $5,750 / $1,470 ≈  3.91

Conclusion: The initiative led by Lambodar Takri in Bolangir, Odisha, highlights the significant economic and social return on investment in combating caste discrimination through community journalism. For every dollar invested in the intervention, an estimated $3.91 in benefits is returned to society through increased awareness of caste discrimination and the direct benefit to the suspended sweeper Debraj. This case serves as a compelling example of how targeted advocacy and community mobilization can lead to meaningful change and inspire further action against discrimination in all forms.