BANGALORE: Though much has been spoken on how a community radio can accelerate socio-impact, it is yet to make a mark in the Indian context.
Despite many success stories on community radio in India, getting permission to run a community radio is still a challenge.
Of the 913 applications for grant of licence, between 2003 and 2011, only 149 stations were granted permission by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and nearly 113 are functional. “It is difficult to create strong community participation and it requires a lot of money to set up the infrastructure. The government has to facilitate a movement to be created in this arena,” said Esther Shankunta Kar, joint secretary of National Commission for Minorities, Government of India.
It was after the cabinet approved the community radio policy, allowing the NGOs and community-based groups, with a track record of developmental work, to set up community radio stations (CRS) that enthusiasm sleeked in to use this medium to socio-economic change. In Karnataka, there are 12 community radios functioning including in Kolar, Dharwad and Bangalore districts.
‘Samudaya Banuli Kendra’- a community radio station was setup in 2006 by University of Agricultural Sciences to meet the needs of the farmers in Dharwad. Recently, ‘Jana Dhwani’ was set up by Viveka School of Excellence in Sargur in H D Kote to catalyse contextually relevant socio-economic development of rural-tribal communities.
“Community radio essentially needs to be run by the people. The policy allows 50 per cent of the content to be generated with participation of local community and the programmes must be in local language. This calls for a need to educate the mass, create awareness and meet the needs of the people at grass-roots level,” Kar said.
Community radio programmes help in creating awareness on health issues, environmental and agricultural issues and other social issues. But with the delayed grant of permissions and lack of awareness, community radio is still lagging behind.
Kar said that the government has to facilitate and create a platform for creativity and innovation by enhancing the financial viability of community radios.