Feb 20, 2012
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, has announced a grand plan to scale up Community Radio Stations (CRS) from the existing number of 126 to a few thousand over the next few years.
New Delhi: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, has announced a grand plan to scale up Community Radio Stations (CRS) from the existing number of 126 to a few thousand over the next few years. If this happens, India will soon have a thriving network of community radios, which will have a big role to play in enriching the nation's diverse population.
The journey to getting the Indian people their own neighbourhood radio station - that broadcasts in their own language or dialect; raises the concerns that the local people face; helps them connect with those state and Central government schemes that can help them lead a better quality of life - has not been easy.
It has taken untiring efforts by individuals and organisations to bring the Indian community radio movement to a stage where the Union government now wants the states in the North-East to have their own CRS. Initiating community radio has been a tough job in India as several communities were shy, not too keen to open up and express themselves. Apart from that, a large number of radio stations have been working in silos.
Realising that challenges were many and the new mass communication tool showed promise, the Delhi-based Commonwealth Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) started actively facilitating organisations set up community radio stations. One of its biggest achievements has been to bring together all of India's operating radio stations on to a single platform to facilitate exchange of ideas and learning from each other. This platform, the Community Radio Sammelans, held in association with the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have even enabled the interaction between radio operators as well as those NGOs which plan to start their radio stations.
Dr R Shreedhar, Director, CEMCA, says: “The community radio stations should also work as a community." India now boasts of over 120 CR stations, that broadcast in different regional languages; over 300 applications, including those in the 'disturbed regions' due to Maoist insurgency, are pending before the government for the setting up of the community radio stations.
CEMCA is working with the Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India, to bring out a series of programmes on strengthening the role of women in the scientific movement in the country. By acting as a bridge between the ministry and community radios, CEMCA is helping CR stations obtain licenses and permissions from the government. Within the ministry itself, CEMCA is helping to operate the Facilitation Centres to expedite the process of licensing and permissions.
The organisation is engaging with 30 CR stations and has organised 31 consultations on generating awareness and advocacy at the policy level to strengthen the movement. It has also organised workshops for NGOs to set up their own community radio stations and has supported the revamp of the audio content sharing platform of OneWorld South Asia for CR stations - EK duniya anEK awaaz.
CEMCA has had a role at every step of the journey of the community radio in India - guiding organisations in setting up radio stations, doing advocacy at the policy level, working on content sharing and holding national-level consultations to ensure that people get their own radio station.