As technological advancement has taken over the young and old alike, the shift in focus from print to digital media has been gradual yet over whelming. Moreover the dependency on internet connectivity for instant information and the use of WWW(world wide Web) is something that no woman or man has been able to escape. As one becomes more and more dependent on technology, our desire for instant news and information has increased.
Realizing the need for instant yet precise information, two Manipur based software developers, Raju Athokpam and his friend Chandisana developed an app known as Pao Macha. Developed on the lines of ‘In-shorts’ news app that delivers short news in just 60 words, the app is committed to a wider social cause and believes in its impartial and bidirectional nature. Since everyone does not have the time to go through long news articles everyday, this app cuts the clutter and delivers the news in a maximum of just three sentences. The founders of Pao Macha also claim this app to be the first news app to provide a bi-directional news flow where even users can post news.
In an interview with TNT-the Northeast Today News, Raju Athokpam shares with us his vision as well as his journey on hoe he went about developing the first of its kind news app from Northeast India.
TNT- Hi, greetings from TNT-The Northeast Today! Before we start off with anything else, please tell our readers about yourself as the founder of this app
Raju Athokpam: I did my engineering in Computer Science from NIT Bhopal, MS from BITS Pilani, and MBA from FMS. I am passionate about enterprising using IT. I have a background of a software developer for 12 years. My friend, Chandisana is the co-founder.
TNT- What made you think that such an app was the need of the hour in Manipur? From where did you derive inspiration for this app from?
Raju Athokpam: Pao Macha was made to help people get awareness about the varied facets of Manipur General Election that was held on 4th and 8th of March 2017. The second focus was Economic blockade that ended after 100 plus days.
I derived inspiration from Inshorts app which made me believe that people read more news with better representation meaning short news and intuitive user interface.
TNT- Why do you think your app would be successful in a volatile region like Manipur where blockades and ‘bandhs’ are a recurring phenomena?
Raju Athokpam: Pao Macha is an outcome of the many local problem faced in Manipur. It is an issue based app. More importantly, it is a bidirectional news app where a) Pao Macha and associates can post news with ‘posted by Pao Macha’ tag and b) any concern user can post news with ‘posted by User’ tag. Because it is issue-based and collaborative, I am confident it will continue to be a success.
Blockades/bandhs are frequent here, however restrictions on internet is rarer, as far as I could recollect the last restriction on internet happened once in last 5 years during initial stage of Economic blockade.
TNT- How do you derive your content? Are you planning for collaborations with other media houses from the region?
Raju Athokpam: We always look forward for collaboration. For now we derive our content from existing source available over internet.
TNT-Please tell us more about the ‘Pao Macha’ app.
Raju Athokpam: We dream for a better Manipur and believe that technology can help. We dream of better society and therefore the category of news will also be aligned to social context. We always focus on the most pain area faced by people on day-to-day basis.
TNT- Are you planning to expand the horizons of your app to other parts of Northeast India?
Raju Athokpam: Of course yes! Aligned to social context.
TNT- Are you planning to incorporate some new features into your app?
Raju Athokpam: Now that Election is over, we are focus on post election. Couple of weeks back our focus was on flood.
TNT- How does it feel to be the pioneer of news briefs in the region?
Raju Athokpam: It feels great. We are really working hard to make the content better in terms of providing in-time information on ultra localized market rates for commodities.
TNT: Why the name ‘Pao Macha’?
Raju Athokpam: Pao Macha mean Small News. Small because the content is short, direct, to-the-point and ultra localised. Also, small because user can post news.
TNT: What next after Pao Macha?
Raju Athokpam: On priority product, we are building an app for students to buy / exchanged used text books. On priority service, we are building e-commerce app.
TNT: What else do you do besides managing this app?
Raju Athokpam: Managing few more apps on Meitei Mayek – i.e. manipuri script. Building websites, ecommerce websites, inventory, billing application, ERP, etc.
TNT- Your message to young journalists from the region?
Raju Athokpam: Come use Pao Macha if you are committed to share good content that are localized, issue specific and are meritorious in social context. Moreover using this app, journalist can also get naked truth from the citizens and can be published over mainstream media, because the app is bidirectional in nature.
Their Facebook page can be found here- Pao Macha
Their app can be downloaded from here- PAO MACHA APP
-Interviewed by Shweta Raj Kanwar for TNT- The Northeast Today News
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org