Community radio – a democratic tool idling away


New Delhi : In almost every city – big or small, the soft informative croon of radio has been replaced by the non-stop banter of television. A trend that experts here condemned, calling for a revised execution of the community radio policy.

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A conference on ‘Community Radio: Practices and Possibilities’ at Indira Gandhi National Open University recently discussed a plethora of issues beleaguering the grassroots and lamented the current state of Indian Community Radio (CR) movement started way back in 1951 during India’s initial Plan years, a statement issued by the open university said.

Former information commissioner O.P. Kejariwal stressed: “Though our generation speaks of globalisation, we rather need more focus on glocalisation. So along with broadcasting, we need narrowcasting. If we adapt modern broadcast technologies for local broadcasts, we have community radio, where we have communities participating not only as broadcasters but as listeners too.”

The community radio movement since inception focused on how to create awareness among umpteen communities about their rights, opportunities, vocational expertise, knowledge and the need to avail themselves of these.

The government policy for Community Radio, 2002 promised to set up over 4,000 CRs, but till date India has set only set up 45, that too mostly in public sector.

On comparing this with its 35-year-old neighbour – Bangladesh, it was found that it has already charted 140 CRs. The Bangladesh government officially adopted a CR policy only in 2008, in response to the World Bank vision for “a world free of poverty”, the statement said.

Suman Basnet, south-Asia regional director World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (also known as AMARC) said: “India is the first country in South Asia to have an independent CR policy. Miracles of community radio broadcasting are just waiting to happen.”

“A conglomerate of over 4,000 community radios in 115 countries, AMARC is only eager to hand-hold genuine Indian efforts to solidify the CR movement in South Asia.“