Alochona must lead to Ainer Chokhe

There are murmurs of the Jadavpur University Community Radio Station going off air on social media, all of which throw up a number of questions.

This is not the best note to begin 2015 on — Jadavpur University’s Community Radio Station faces going off-air, as sources convey to us.

Many community media practitioners who questioned the issue of access to Community Radio Stations run by educational institutions have drawn comfort from the way Community Radio JU lived its grain. So much so, it humbled “qualified” radio professionals to see young people from the community make their own programmes — Sishu Tirtho, Alochana, Srutinatoker, Natya Company, Asor Mukhomukhi… the list goes on.

Most importantly, Radio Maths, a programme produced and broadcast Radio JUwith help from the Department of Science and Technology showed the strong links between academia and their communities.

Through Radio Maths, JU Community Radio went to prove how radio, in the hands of its own community, could broach on a subject that many felt was the threshold of rocket science. This effort has also been showcased before the Central Institute of Mathematics, no less.

Radio JU successfully completed the “Science for Women” Project by Department of Science and Technology (DST) to increase awareness about health and hygiene among women. Women from the community participated, organised programmes in their locality, learnt to create scripts and produce programmes.

Of course, there was a team to mentor this community — a team we have all been proud to know as Sarbani, Abhishek and Nilanjana.

Through the involvement of the local community, Community Radio JU also showed to all of us how a Community Radio Station must be run. It succeeded where Radio SRFTI run by qualified professional, in the same city, struggled.

Which brings us to ask ourselves why JU Community Radio faces the prospects we dread to hear of. Has the academic community felt that the less-than-qualified community members who frequently accessed “their” radio station trespassed their holy grail?

Radio JU 1JU Community Radio had its team of child reporters and volunteers — a perfect show of academia being the most active proponents of civil society. What will happen of this team?

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has for a long time stressed on the involvement of communities and building the capacities of community members — this has been in keeping with the thinking on taking governance to the people and JU Community Radio has indeed been a success story of its type, emanating, as it does from the pristine environments of an university. Will this altruism turn into an albatross?

Most importantly, JU Community Radio has also been an example in its attempts to practice certain non-negotiables in Community Radio. Are these non-negotiables in divergence with the environs it operates out of? JU Community Radio have been recipients of two national awards.

Ainer Chokhe, literally, through the eyes of the mirror can be a candid statement of existence. It is time to remind authorities at the Jadavpur University that they are custodians of the licence on behalf of the community.

And lastly, if, I may please, the authorities need to once again go through the Grant of Permission Agreement, affectionately referred to GOPA — this living document should dictate their actions vis-a-vis the Community Radio Station (as opposed to “their”).

Post Script: Alochona and Ainer Chokhe are two programmes aired on Radio JU Community Radio.

Bijoy Patro is Director, Programmes and Editorial, OneWorld, New Delhi