Working in the field of psephology, Rachana Choudary Tummala travels a great deal to rural places which is where she realised that mainstream media doesn’t cover a lot of stories. It is with the intention to bring these hidden stories to light that she first started Humans of Andhra in September 2017.
“Andhra is a budding state. We had 13 teams travelling to 13 different districts to cover the entire state rather than just the cities. Not only did our teams capture the beauty of the state, they also tapped into several welfare issues as well,” says Rachana adding, “Their stories are definitely different. Hyderabad has an urban outlook whereas Andhra is more about social issues. Something that the media does not bring out.”
The 26-year-old, who runs a political consultancy called NG Mind Frame, has been part of many election campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s US presidential run. She was also part of the Bihar, Karnataka and Telangana elections and most recently, Andhra elections.
Interestingly, her other project —Humans of Hyderabad was in fact, set in motion nearly three years ago. So was Humans of Hyderabad inspired by Humans of New York?
Explains Rachana, “We looked at the format of Humans of New York, Humans of Bombay, Humans of Pakistan and Humans of Singapore. But this project happened mainly because I have an interest in talking to new people, getting to know them and learning from them. Having spent a lot of time outside travelling, I have interacted with a lot of people from diverse areas. That’s why I thought it would be nice if we did something like that here in Hyderabad.”
Despite the growth of social media, especially in South India, Rachana admits that it has taken a lot of effort to get to where they are today. “We started Humans of Hyderabad almost three years ago. Back then, there were not many people on Instagram. The reach was comparatively lower, and we focused a lot more on
Facebook without leaving out Instagram,” explains Rachana, adding, “However, the kind of stories we focus on in Humans of Hyderabad is not everyone’s cup of tea, and may not appeal to the younger generations, for instance. Nobody wants to know what a chaiwala, dhobi or security guard is doing.”
But Rachana is determined to keep her endeavour alive. “Through Humans of Hyderabad, we are trying to capture the diversity of Hyderabad, its vibrancy and also that of Telangana as a whole. There is space for everybody — from the LGBT community to women entrepreneurs. The stories are very inspiring, and while initially, things were a bit difficult, now it’s getting to where I envisioned it to be,” she concludes.