“Community radio has been one of the very effective medium of reaching out to the most marginalized and remote communities whose voice has not been heard. Also it is one of the effective means of making the voice of the community heard and collectivizing people around the issue that affect most”, echoed the participants in the National Level Consultation on Community Radio: Furthering Rights, Justice and Development of Marginalized Communities. The 2-day consultation started at Prasar Bharati Training Institute, Bhubaneswar organized by Young India supported by Action Aid India and Odisha live as the digital media partner.

“The role of community radio has been noteworthy in bringing change through connecting people with information on their rights and entitlements. Although the globalization of media – both public and private along with easy access to internet connectivity throughout India, community radio is still seen as an effective and significant medium to reach out the communities in rural India” mentioned Prof. Vinod Paverela, Chair at UNESCO Chair on Community Media.

Since the community radio is evolved from community hence it has become an effective and empowering tool for addressing the issues of community through advocating for rights of women, minorities & dalit communities, building the community resilient to disaster, grounding of secular values of the constitutions and building strong understanding between the people in conflicts and mobilizing solidarity support of different social groups, and CSOs for ensuring social justice to the vulnerable communities. As of now, 201 community radio stations have become operational in the country, out of which 76 are operated by NGOs, 110 by the educational institutions and 15 by state agricultural universities/ krishi vigyan kendras.

“The consultation is to discuss the potentiality of community radio in bringing social change and capture the best practices from the work of community radio across the country. Also it aims at creating plan on how to make use of the network of community radio towards ensuring peace & justice in the conflict situation, building disaster resilient community, facilitating people to,” stated N A Shah Ansari, President, Young India and the Chairperson, Radio Namaskar, a vibrant community radio operational in coastal Odisha for more than a decade. “Community radio can be used to amplify the voice of poor and marginalised to access their rights and entitlements” opined Sehjo Singh, Director Programme & Policies, ActionAid.

41 community radio broadcasters from 19 states of India participated in the consultation and contributed to the discussion through sharing their experiences, learning, best practices and perspectives that has been developed working with the community. An exhibition of best practices by the community radio centers across India is also opened to the public for dissemination.

Among others, Dr. S. Rasool, Director, Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia, Kumar Kalanand Mani, Executive Secretary, Peaceful Society, Goa and Debabrat Patra, Regional Manager, ActionAid also graced the consultation. - Orissa Diary