Radio, particularly community radio, could emerge as a powerful medium for promoting education and local culture at the grassroots level, said Arun Jaitley, India’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting (MIB).
Jaitley was speaking in New Delhi at the inaugural session of the 3-day Sixth National Community Radio Sammelan on the theme Community Radio in India: Towards Diversity and Sustainability. The Sammelan was organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, in collaboration with OneWorld Foundation India from March 18-21, 2016.
Citing an example of community radio, Jaitley said that Radio is back with a bang. “India is a land of diversity, and that diversity in the form of different dialects, food, and culture is visible from district to district,” he said.
Acknowledging that government has an important role as a facilitating agency, Jaitley applauded CR stations for health and hygiene related programmes, particularly those spreading awareness about handwashing in rural areas. Talking about the potential of community radio, he said sky is the limit for radio’s breadth of programming.
Jaitley added that despite shrinking circulation of newspapers published out of big cities, regional media are continuously growing. “Two decades back radio and television were a monopoly of the state, but this situation is changing all over the world with private players and the community taking more ownership of local media in various forms including community radio.”
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, India’s Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, said that a truly empowered India is possible with the empowerment of individuals and families. He added that unlike FM radio and television, community radio has the power to empower individuals.
Rathore said that empowerment happens through information, and the community radio movement and the Indian government are on the same side for the overall good of people. “We have to take the CR movement forward, as it has the power to connect with people in the local languages. Regional conferences for community radio are an important tool for enrichment,” he said.
Sunil Arora, Secretary, MIB, said that acting on suggestions from the CR community, viewpoints of the operational CR stations are being incorporated during this year’s conference. He said, “Ministry has moved a proposal to provide financial assistance to the CR stations for infrastructure related expenses, and the CR stations must make full use of this support.”
Talking about the strengthened streamlined process for starting a community radio station, Arora added that permissions have been issued to set up 439 community radio stations out of which 191 are functional.
Joint Secretary (Broadcasting) R Jaya expressed that the three day conference on Community Radio will enrich the sector and build bridges among stakeholders.
Arun Jaitley and Rajyavardhan Rathore also felicitated the winners of the 5th National Community Radio Awards. The award for the most creative/innovative programme content was presented to ‘Radio Benziger’ from Kerala for their program ‘Sukrutham’. The other categories included awards for programme with best theme; community engagement; and promoting local culture. They also released the Community Radio Compendium and Community Radio Map which identified the location of community radio stations across the country.