Community Radio Stations are like the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, where relevant information regarding government programmes, schemes and other key information is disseminated directly to the locals.
~T.C.A. Kalyani, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, told IANS.
Community radio transcends technicalities; it’s a human endeavor fostering a sense of community. Empowering locals to produce and broadcast their programs, it becomes a collaborative space where individuals converge. More than a medium, it’s an avenue for collective creativity and self-empowerment, often proving transformative. Beyond the joy of creating unique radio content, participants experience immense satisfaction in positively impacting the lives of rural residents. In essence, community radio is a powerful catalyst for building connections and elevating humanity, even in today’s digital day and age!
Learn How Rural Community Radio Stations Are Helping India
Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic lockdown, community radio stations emerge as crucial disseminators of information, advocating key practices like social distancing, sanitization, and debunking fake news, among the inhabitants of rural India.
CR Connect, based in the Nuh district of Haryana and affiliated with the Sehgal Foundation, stands at the forefront. Broadcasting across 225 villages, it initiated awareness programs in February, setting a precedent for others. Acting as a conduit for official information from district authorities, the station addresses entitlements of various schemes.
The program “21 din 21 baatein” (“21 Days 21 Topics”) delivers daily expert messages, thematic poems, and discussions on vital subjects like handwashing, healthcare access, and self-learning, fostering positivity.
Engaging listeners with discussions on pressing issues, including the pandemic, and featuring local folk songs on social isolation, the station creates a holistic informational experience.
Special initiatives like “Savdhaan” caution against misinformation, guiding listeners on discerning credible news sources. The “Áaj Ka Hero” program spotlights personal accounts of lifestyle changes, illustrating ways to safeguard against COVID-19 spread.
Amidst widespread fear and uncertainty, community members express their reliance on daily live phone-in programs as an essential source of information and entertainment during these challenging times. The radio serves as a vital connector, facilitating direct interactions between callers and experts through telephone conversations. Addressing community concerns, the station provides valuable insights, answering questions about the duration of the lockdown in the area and elucidating on entitlements based on information sourced from the district administration and health department. In this way, radio emerges as a crucial lifeline for the community, fostering connection and knowledge dissemination.
~ Pooja Murada, director of communications, S.M. Sehgal Foundation.
India’s Most Backward District In Era Of Streaming
When CR Connect commenced, the callers were exclusively men. Fast forward to 2018, and 20% of callers are now women. Given limited access to television and no access to computers, radio serves as the sole local platform that connects these individuals, addresses crucial issues, and amplifies voices within the community.
Teenagers feel awkward about asking around. Radio, being a confidential portal, helps.
~ Pooja Murada
In the nearby Ghagas village, a CR Connect RJ conducts a live session of “Uljhan,” a show tackling mental health concerns while ensuring caller anonymity. The program frequently addresses common worries related to puberty, exploring the physical and mental changes adolescents undergo.
Gurgaon Ki Awaaz, through its popular show ‘Chahat Chowk,’ initially faced criticism for its content on sexual and reproductive health. However, over time, listeners have come to appreciate its transformative impact. The majority of callers, migrant male workers, lacked awareness of physiological differences between genders, leaving founder Arti Jaiman astounded. “Chahat Chowk” has left such a mark that, based on advice from doctors on the show, numerous men have actively sought “couple counseling.”
The Top Rural Development NGO In India
Development initiatives – Outreach for Development by the S M Sehgal Foundation, aims to foster positive social change in rural communities through awareness-building and knowledge-sharing. Leveraging a well-rounded mix of rural community media, including the CR Connect, social media, and various print, visual, and interactive formats, the program strives to reinforce opinions conducive to achieving rural development goals. Information is disseminated in a reliable and timely manner, presented in an easily understandable format to encourage dialogue and engagement that can positively influence behavioural changes.
The initiative provides a platform for grassroots communities to express their perspectives, empowering people to identify significant issues affecting their lives and collaboratively address them. Through last-mile outreach activities, the program narrows the information gap, expediting social change by bringing local voices and their concerns to the forefront.
However, it’s a work in progress…
There Is Still Some Scope For Improvement
Seventeen coastal districts across eight states lack Community Radio (CR) stations, impacting the provision of crucial information to fishermen and locals about sea conditions, marketing strategies for their produce, and other relevant updates.
In the realm of education, CR emerges as a valuable tool to connect with students beyond school hours, offering tutorials in subjects like mathematics. Furthermore, it can serve as an effective platform to educate denotified tribes on various aspects such as livelihood options, health, nutrition, and hygiene.
Accessible through a mobile phone, CR becomes an inclusive medium, making it convenient for a diverse audience. Recognizing its potential in behaviour change communication, women’s self-help groups can utilize CR for disseminating information on nutrition, child care, maternal health, and the scheduling of essential supplements. Even in correctional facilities, CR holds promise as a medium for fostering positive behavioural changes.