There are 54 agricultural universities in India and among them six have community radio stations out of 152 community radios in the country. Pantnagar Janvani at Pantnagar, Uttarakhand is one of them. It was launched on 15 August 2011 by GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology. I reached there on a rainy Sunday evening in September 2013 to know how it has completed its two years of successful journey. Now, it broadcasts fresh programmes for two hours and repeat the same for the next two times a day. There are six staff- community reporter, anchor-cum-radio reporter, senior script writer, programme producer, programme editor, lab technician are working at the station. In fact, the staff of different departments of the university, has formed a community to manage the station and which is led by Associate Director Communication (Community Radio) of the University.
The station is reaching more than 80 villages in its vicinity. Dr. S. K. Kashyap, Associate Director said, “The station was started to be the interface between the farmers in the community under the vicinity of the community radio station and the scientists at the university through by-way communication.” Rajendra, the community reporter of the station said that farmers have fewer problems here as these farmers are progressive enough due to the university. There are many programmes of the station which are very much attractive and appealing to different audiences such as women and children beyond farmers. Women Self Help Groups come forward to share their success stories through community radio. Women and girls’ participation in the programmes are overwhelming. Sanjay, a senior script writer of the station informed, “On an average, 25 girls and women participated every week in a slogan contest which was started on 5 February 2012 and continued for three months”. This was to empower women in the community and create awareness among the masses about various gender issues and concerns. Women have participated as guests as well as hosts in one of its programmes – ‘Meri Rosai’.
Vikas, who is a programme producer at the station said, “The latest research conducted by the station revealed that not many youth were participating in our radio.” Now, we have started campaigning to include youth in our programmes.” In the last semester, 56 students participated in the programme production. This time, 36 have registered within two days to anchor the youth programme. Public participation has increased and erased the tag of farmers’ radio through various campaigns from time to time. Now, the station has become more inclusive. Before August 15, 2011, there were no radio listeners in the community. After one and half years, it was found that almost 20-25 per cent of the villagers have started listening radio.
Farmers, their wives and children come to the studio without any reluctance and record their voices freely. In these last two years, Pantnagar Janvani has faced many challenges including fund. However, the major challenge in front of the station is its diverse communities. People in its neighbourhood speak Punjabi, Bengali, Gadwali, Kumaoni, Bhojpuri and Urdu. The station produces programmes in Hindi, which can be understood by most of these communities, though it records folk songs of different languages. One of the successes of this radio station is that local stations of All India Radio depend up on the station for its agriculture programme.
Bidu Bhusan Dash
Academic Associate in Communication Area,
IIM Kashipur, Uttarakhand, India