World Radio Day (February 13th) is always a good time to look back even as we look ahead. The recent Radio Festival organized at the UNESCO house in New Delhi, by members of the International Association of Women was indeed a healthy first and an interesting departure from the past. Apart from being a celebration of radio as a medium, the festival was a landmark in terms of a collaborative endeavour to bring together the three sectors of broadcasting – public, private and community on a common platform. This is cause for cheer, and we look forward to more such efforts.
Underlying the celebratory spirit which is welcome, there remain questions, which need to be answered, specifically for the community radio sector. Almost all of them pertain to policy reform and are long overdue. CR News has flagged many of these on several occasions, and in the previous issues. We will not labour the point – except to underline that New Delhi’s virtual silence has unfortunately accentuated the sluggish growth of the sector in the recent past.
Around the same time last year, the UNESCO Chair had organised a two day national consultation which also served as a platform to articulate and formalize a body of recommendations which was subsequently presented to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. (See previous CR News issue for details). However, till date, many of these recommendations languish on the backburner.
Contrast this with the community radio climate in Bangladesh, (see article – 10 years of Community Radio for details) where on the eve of World Radio Day, the Community Radio Installation Broadcast and Operation Policy was released. The Policy’s restrictions and shortcomings notwithstanding, its release reflected regular and active dialogue between the sector and the Bangladesh government, and served to nurture an enabling community radio environment in the country. As we look ahead, the sector in India perhaps needs to look sideways as well – if it is to move ahead.