While doing her research at MIT Media Labs in Boston, youth activist Anushka Shah focused on how entertainment could be used to strengthen a democracy and society. Soon, however, she realised that academic research could only go so far, and it was time to put her vision into action. Thus, her venture Civic Studios was launched two years ago.
Based in Mumbai, the production house creates comedy content for young Indians with civic engagement at its heart. Through her digital Hindi channel Pocket Change and its shows, Anushka’s aim is to empower audiences by addressing the lack of confidence in public institutions, knowledge of government and democratic systems, and the low self-efficacy in affecting change as a citizen.
“It was important for us to create content where you not only discuss the problems but also put forth actions and solutions based on what experts on ground – or those who are engaged with that issue very closely – are seeing and saying about a way forward on that,” she says of the aim of her production house.
“Our goal is not to push a certain ideology, it’s not about being politically correct. For us, it’s about being factually correct,” Shah explains.
eShe editor Aekta Kapoor chatted with Anushka over a livestreamed video about the state of Indian politics and the power of humour for a healthy democracy. There’s also a small sampler of the type of videos Civic Studios has created in one year of Pocket Change.