Many congratulations to you for writing this piece and rightly advocating the need of community radio (CR) in Indian landscape with varied diversity. We as community radio practitioners believe that CR is rural India's social media platform as it gives them a chance to speak up, give opinions, contribute in words or through songs, is locally relevant, and breaks all literacy barriers. Just as social media upholds freedom of expression, CR also does so but the difference is that its strength is mired with administrative controls and procedures. For instance the ban on news and airing sponsored ads/programs.
The annual national CR sammelans are a big grand affair so to say. Lot of deliberations happen, promises are made, collaborative action groups/committees are formed but when we look back after a few months, things are still waiting for action. To reach to the target of 4000 CR stations, we need to look at all kinds of sustainability (content, social, technical) and not just financial sustainability. It would be incorrect if I say efforts are not being done on this front but it is till a long drawn process in itself. Handing over the ownership to the community, lack of professional training avenues, non recognition of CR as media organizations and customized training support on the nuances of CR programming are some stumbling blocks that have to be overcome. Although we are doing our bit in involving the community but to let go all sorts of controls and hand over the ownership to them require capacity building of practitioners themselves. It is a long road to travel but certainly that reaps positive results.
In today's digital era, it becomes extremely important to blend the power of one of the oldest form to media with a gamut of Information Communication Technologies available at hand that can give a fillip to radio's inherent power.
Team Alfaz-e-Mewat FM 107.8