Although grass roots community radio came to India nearly a decade ago, its entry into Jammu and Kashmir has been relatively recent.  It was only on April 6, 2012 that Community Radio Sharda went on air thanks to the efforts of the NGO, Pir Panchal Cultural, Educational, Social, Environmental and Sports Organization (CESES) that applied for a license in 2011.

Radio Sharda’s mandate has been to revive and preserve the cultural ethos of community it serves. Towards this end, it has especially focused on the needs of the Kashmiri Pandits. The content of Radio Sharda is in Kashmiri and Hindustani, broadcast on FM 90.04 in and around Jammu City. Adhering to its motto of Booziv ti khosh rooziv (listen and be happy), the station has consistently striven to keep social welfare and community development as its central focus.

Given the vulnerability of the Kashmir valley to conflict, it was perhaps not surprising that community radio was a late entrant.

However, the idea and the relevance of community radio began as early as 2009 when Panos South Asia started a community-based radio programme for the Awantipora community in collaboration with the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST). Its programme ‘Pesh Kadam’ (a step forward) comprised a combined production by Awantipora youth and students of IUST and was broadcast till March 2011. ‘Pesh Kadam’ programmes were related to career, health, and general issues of the locality, like water, electricity, and agriculture. Its main objective was to give voice to the youth of Kashmir in general and Awantipora in particular.

Now solely run by IUST, this initiative produces a weekly programme by students, which is broadcast from Radio Kashmir 102.6 FM. The issues cover a wide range of subjects: from livelihoods to governance and also include segments related to culture, economy, health, career and many other aspects of the community it serves.

John Babu
Central University of Kashmir