SANGHAM RADIO:

FIRST ALL DALIT WOMEN  RURAL COMMUNITY  RADIO

A Report by Jai Chandiram

Putting Labourers into Limelight

The community radio scene in India has been a bit of a joke. Institutional/ Campus radio ,NGO’s buying time on AIR for programs cannot be accepted as community radio . The concept of community radio’ envisages that the community owns , operates and serves the community . The  community is paramount in the system design .Campus radio may take the microphone to the slum nearby the campus and air the voices of the community and put out ‘do good’ programs  for  but that cannot accepted as community radio and is the traditionally treated as programs for the community. Some  NGO’s have also worked with the communities and prepared programs with their involvement for broadcast over AIR.

Deccan Development Society, ( DDS) works with seventy- five  villages in Medak District , l00 kilometers away from Hyderabad . The villagers have gone beyond subsistence farming , campaigning for food security, ecological farming practices based on peoples knowledge and re- energising  the dry land areas  with indigenous crops . Over the years the success  of the community in maintaining  biodiversity , seed sovereignty and  alternative to PDS system has been  given  voice and the  confidence in the indigenous knowledge of the women farmers . In addition ,the work on  community based health system building  on peoples knowledge and locally available herbal medicines are being documented . The work encompasses  relevant education for rural   farm children and strengthening  governance by the  people through participatory techniques  . DDS has vigorously campaigned  against Bt cotton and GMS crops  .The villagers have created  the Community Media Trust and own and operate a radio and television production house . Almost eight years ago UNESCO had approved  a transmitter for DDS , but licensing was not given by the Ministry , so the women recorded programs  and circulated the programs on tape to the villagers . The villagers gathered  at night in the lamplight to discuss the programs and share their concerns and record their views …the topics ranged from  subsistence farming , care of cows and buffaloes , nurseries for tree  saplings ,school education and poverty alleviation and health programs The main thrust of the programs was the survival of the community as well as documentation of  its rich cultural heritage and knowledge . The sanghams were active and alive as the programs were their empowerment  and networked their knowledge .

The DDS  community radio station in Manchnoor truly reflects the democratization of media and  Justice Sawant’s  historic judgment that the ‘airwaves belong to the people’ The Sangham radio will be a unique  experience and will be an area of study as the community grows  with their programs on issues relevant to their lives with farmers juries and social audits to live a life with dignity.

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