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The Power of Radio

13 February, 2021 14:46:07
The Power of Radio

Nityananda Janavani Community Radio Station is an initiative by MANT (Manbhum Ananda Ashram Nityananda Trust) and is primarily run by the locals, who are mainly from the Santhal community in Bengal. The Radio station caters to almost 250 villages spread across Puncha and Manbazar-I blocks in the district of Purulia. Over the past several years this radio station has become an integral part of the large diaspora of this tribal community to whom nothing was available in terms of news, information, leave alone the right kind of information to enrich and carry forward their lives and livelihood.

Behind the broadcast

Jamuna Mudi, a 13-year-old girl of the village Mudidi of Purulia District is an example of how the content of the Community Radio motivated her to stop her own marriage. When she was a student of Class VII of Puncha Madhyamik Sikshya Kendra, her father arranged her marriage against her will. Coming to know of this, Jamuna called the ‘would be’ bridegroom’s family and conveyed her unwillingness to go ahead with the proposed marriage. She fled from her house and took shelter at a centre for Shabar Children. Later she told one of the station’s correspondents that she wanted to study and also that she is aware of the fact that getting married below the age of 18 is illegal. Programmes of Nityananda Janavani helped her in knowing this.

Connecting to the World

This is just one of the many success stories that this community Radio Station has been able to achieve during its journey from 2015. In 2017, when the station got the necessary permission to broadcast round the clock, it became one of the most powerful tools of empowerment to the local people within a radius of 15 kms and covering 250 villages. With one station manager, eight producers, thirteen radio jockeys, three field journalists and eight community radio volunteers, Janavani has dedicated themselves to the service of fighting perpetual poverty and backwardness in the marginalised rural areas. It is an initiative to help the underprivileged to sustain an upgraded lifestyle negotiating social crisis at various levels.

Inside the Community Radio Station Janavani

While having a conversation with Dr. Nirmal Mukherjee, Director of the Trust that oversees the Radio Station, I was briefed about some of the future plans of the station. He said emphatically “The objective of starting this communication platform was very simple. We wanted to build-up awareness, through the mode of education and entertainment (EE) designed by, for and with the community and also understand the social problem in all its complexity and simplify it into an easily transferable message. The locals generate their own content for the station and run the operation of the same without any external interference. Our role has been to be an honest and sincere facilitator." 

Yes it is heartening to see their sincere efforts bear more than satisfactory results over time. They have successfully made the community aware of the basic ideas regarding community radio, its importance, purpose and usefulness, including the most backward “Sabar” community. The cultural propensities of the community could be ascertained and the tentative list of the future performers could be prepared. 500 plus youths, including women members of 30 SHGs, ori-ented to have a creative interest in the community radio based ‘edutainment’ programs in the target villages. 30 numbers of volunteers could be trained in the production process.16 community members could be oriented to own the responsibility of running the CR. All of these have been done to facilitate a continuous delivery and broadcast of content related to health, income generation, culture, education, agriculture and more.

Nityananda Janavani 91.2-FM

During this hour of crisis, when the whole world is under a severe attack from an unknown virus killing millions, Janavani Community Radio Station is continuously broadcasting awareness in-formation for the people within the radius of 15 kms. Grievance cell has been opened and people are informing over phone to the station about their problems, be it unavailability of food, masks etc. Janavani through their parent body MANT immediately is extending their helping hand and with the support of the local administration, their problems are being addressed. A unique programme has been conceptualised by the station. Listeners are given an opportunity to air their views as to how they are adhering to the various restrictions imposed by the government to stop spreading the virus among them. It is to be noted here that Purulia till now is Corona free and not a single case has been registered from this district. To reach to a larger audience, the station has started web radio and has introduced podcast to target the younger generation.

Spreading awareness

This is an ideal case of true inclusiveness along with ownership, participation and responsibility which are the key ingredients of any community empowerment. Nityananda Janavani Community Radio Station, being the first community radio station in West Bengal, has shown us all that local issues are to be addressed by the local people and in the local language.

Story Tag:
  • Shanthali Radio Station, Janavani

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