While most of the news channels are busy launching special editions for 15th Lok Sabha elections, BBC has decided to take its viewers on a ride. It has commissioned an exclusive India Election Train, which starts on April 25 and will have the reporters from BBC's Global News division covering different cities in the country by train till May 13. This initiative aims to deliver its international audiences a range of news from across India during the General Election.
BBC has taken a train from Indian Railways for this project and the coaches of the train will have BBC branding all over them. The train will cover cities such as Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Patna, Allahabad and back to Delhi.
Afroz adds that this is the first such initiative in India by the BBC, where the focus will not only be on the outcome of the elections, but will also report on the divergent political process and the economy of India.
This train journey is being pegged as a multimedia, multi-platform and multilingual coverage and will have live elements as well as pre-recorded reports and features that will be aired across the world. BBC will support this journey online through bbc.com/india, which will have a log of the journey and an interactive map to track the progress of the train.
The election coverage will focus on the global aspect of the elections. "We are going to use the elections as the peg and tell the 'Indian Story' to our global audiences. We would like to investigate why India is still growing at more than 6 per cent while the advanced economies are reeling under recession. We will explore if India, with its massive market, can help in the recovery of the global downturn," adds Afroz.
This is not first time that the BBC has done something on this scale. In 2007, a team of journalists from the BBC travelled on a boat for a month in the southern parts of Bangladesh to report on the possible impact of the climate change in the low lying parts of Bangladesh.
Also, in 2008, BBC travelled across the US during the final stages of the presidential election. However, this is the first time the media house has undertaken such an initiative in India.
"When we started to plan the Indian election coverage, it was felt that we needed to travel to capture the diversity of the political process. We favour this type of collaborative approach for projects that enable different reporting teams to share resources and pool material," informs Afroz.
The media house will have reporters from various verticals including BBC World Service English, BBC Hindi, BBC Urdu, BBC Tamil, BBC Bengali, BBC Somali, BBC Swahili, BBC Burmese, BBC Vietnamese, BBC World News television, Arabic TV, Persian TV and BBC.Com/news.
Richard Sambrook, director, BBC Global News, says, "The BBC's approach to covering the Indian election is unique and representative of the breadth and depth of its news gathering facility. The train will provide the audiences in India and around the world with an in-depth view of the election and the key themes and issues surrounding it."