Community radio in Uttaranchal

IN Community Media | 02/10/2004
Since May 2004, five community radio groups here have been engaged in a research initiative looking at grassroots media and poverty.

Reflections on Community Radio from the Hills of Uttaranchal 

29-09-2004 (UNESCO New Delhi) 

?Community Radio is one platform where each and every member of your community can participate in some form or the other?, says Kavita Bisht, a young, active member of Pradeep Community Radio, from the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal, a Himalayan state in northern India. 

?It has been an interesting journey into the world of Radio - to see how it speaks, what it does, how people can use it to put forth their views to raise new debates. I have learnt some fascinating lessons in community participation thanks to my involvement in [community radio] processes?, writes Jagdai Rawat, a social activist and elder member of Raibar Community Radio, when asked to share her experience. 

Since May of 2004, five community radio groups - four in Garhwal, in the western part of the state, and one in Kumaon, in the east - have been engaged in a research initiative looking at grassroots media and poverty. The groups operate with the assistance of Himalaya Trust, an NGO based in Dehra Dun with support from UNESCO. 

What is it about community radio that inspires and motivates people to come together, despite varied backgrounds and interests, and work towards creating a shared platform of media resources for their communities? 

?Our village is very far away from the road. We do not have access to newspapers or magazines. However people do like to listen to radio, be it for news or entertainment?, says Vijaypal, a member of Raibar Community Radio and a village postman by profession. ?This motivates me to work for this medium, in order to make it people-inclusive and useful for my village,? he says finishing with a determined look. 

Rajendra Negi of Hevalvani Community Radio in Garhwal feels ?It is very important for every community to get news on issues which are directly related to it, like that of employment, education, etc. In order for information to travel from one village to another in the hills, it is very important to help create a Community Radio model.? 

Uttaranchal`s emerging community radios have another interesting facet to them. In suitable ways, they are trying to preserve and record the historical and folk literature of the hills. Many local practices, customs and indigenous methods and techniques are fast disappearing in changing times. 

?There are many hidden treasures in these hills,? says Vijayapal. ?Like the festivals of Fendeshwar, the Pandava-Nritiyas and Dusehera. And though technology and communication media has advanced so much over the decades, these customs and stories never travel outside limited regions. Through radio I want to record our rich history and literature for coming generations to hear?. 

All these community radio enthusiasts harbour a dream: to create grassroots community radios that are significant, effective and based on democratic and egalitarian principles. ?In the future, I want to contribute towards making my community a strong and cohesive body, so that they can raise a collective voice against the injustices that today are suffocating our society, our environment, our families,? concludes Kavita on an optimistic note. ?And I know I can do all this and more through our Radio.? 

Contributed by Ruchika Negi, a local researcher and an organizer for Himalaya`s Trust ( negi_ruchika@rediffmail.com) 

The community radio initiative in Uttaranchal started off based on the activities of five community based groups working with radio. After recent training workshops, 7 more groups have initiated community radio in different parts of Uttaranchal. They make and narrowcast programmes with the help of very basic equipments such as a double cassette player. 

Source UNESCO New Delhi

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