Radio Namaskar is the first Community Radio (CR) of Odisha (eastern India) based in Konark. It was established in 2009 by Young India, “a civil society organisation formed by some National Youth Awardees, Indira Gandhi NSS Awardees & Ex- NSS volunteers, committed to the cause of social transformation and development.” (http://radionamaskar.in).
N.A. Shah Ansari identifies himself as a progressive leftist, a rights activist, and a community media practitioner. His designations include: President, Young India; Chairperson, Radio Namaskar; Editor Namaskar. N.A. Shah Ansari has been a keen advocate of community radio in Odisha and an inspiration for many a CR practitioners not only in eastern India, but also in other parts of India and South Asia.
In the interview, N.A. Shah Ansari talks all about the beginnings of Radio Namaskar, how it became a mission, the need to start a community newspaper to supplement the activities and advocacy efforts of community radio, and how each of their listener is also a reporter. He also explains the operational principles of the station led by their women team, the importance of local language as a cementing factor within the community, and how, even the CM tweeted about the problems highlighted on Radio Namaskar.
The interview brings out his views that NGOization of the CR sector would not be counterproductive if the NGOs remain pro-people, and engage actively with their community. In fact, he feels the organisations have a responsibility not just to give people a platform to voice their issues and ideas, but to follow up on matters that get talked about and discussed on the CR.
N.A. Shah Ansari also discusses the radio’s experience of foregrounding issues related to women, caste, and religion and the challenges in doing so. The interview also features the extremely passionate and dedicated reporter Rojalin Pradhan, who has been associated with Radio Namaskar since its inception. She talks about the opportunities Radio Namaskar has provided for her to do service to her community, and her life-world as a woman community media producer.
N.A. Shah Ansari speaks his mind about the slow pace at which the CR sector is progressing in India, and what the advocates of community radio could possibly do about it? He feels that there is an urgent need to carry out capacity building of communities for participating in the CR stations that are existing in order to sustain them. Namaskar is also looking at starting a Community Media Institute in near future which will prepare people from communities to become broadcasters and reporters.
CR News Bureau
(Interview edited by K Vaishali)