Conference on Alternative Rural Media titled, “Rural Voices: Unheard to by the Empowered”
By Communications Team
“In the twenty-first century, the capacity to communicate will almost certainly be a key human right. Eliminating the distinction between the information-rich and information-poor is also critical to eliminating economic and other inequalities between North and South, and to improve the life of all humanity.” – Nelson Mandela, 1995
Despite India’s tremendous advances in the field of communication, most rural Indians are still information-poor and unheard. Mainstream media fails to reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Television dominates media outreach in rural communities as 38% of India’s rural population watch television. Radio reaches only 18% of the rural populace and print media reaches only 15% (Lintas Media…2008). Sehgal Foundation’s experiences with rural communities reveal that media outreach is one directional. While some of the rural population can access media sources, none of the rural population has access to a media platform for voicing their experiences and troubles.
For inclusive growth and development, the media should cover the needs and aspirations of all sections of Indian society. Rural communities should have access to media platforms in order to express their experiences, problems and needs. When rural communities are given a platform to express their needs, their problems can start to be acknowledged and addressed by Indian society as a whole. This will empower rural communities to encourage rural development across India.
Rural Voices is a conference organized by the Sehgal Foundation. It will feature creative ways by which rural communities can receive information and will also give them a platform to express their needs and concerns effectively. Community radio, vernacular newspapers, and wall paintings have been found to be effective media platforms in rural villages. Other media platforms that encourage rural participation include theatre, comics, and songs.
Sehgal Foundation invites diverse stakeholders to discuss alternative forms of media platforms and to share their successes. Panelists will feature policy issues and media resources.