Community-owned mediums to counter Naxals

N A Shah Ansari argues for Community Radio as a potential medium to wean young people from the path of violence.

The role of radio in spurring community-led communication to reach out to people in the Naxal affected areas of the country has been an area the Community Radio Association (CRA) has been attempting to highlight for some time now. Expressing his concerns and dwelling upon the efforts of the CRA in this regard, CRA Vice President, N A Shah Ansari dwelled on the possible ways to overcome this hurdle.

Exploring the government’s hesitation to use Community Radio in areas affected by Naxal violence, Ansari feels that there is dichotomy in the government’s approach to communication.

“All the All India Radio stations are in the state capitals where there is a lot of security and when we talk of the extreme forces we should remember that will not take them any time to capture an All India Radio station even though there is high security,” he says.

Yet, after the introduction of FM radio stations of the All India Radio, now district headquarters too have radio stations. This forms the basis of Ansari’s argument for involving communities in broadcasting their own content, using young people from the communities.

This, he feels, is also a reason for more Community Radio Stations to come up in the areas affected by Naxalite violence so that communities, especially their young people are involved and informed of the various schemes of the government and what they are entitled to.

“We can groom the youth positively and we can mobilise them towards positive work,” he says. “It is believed that all the youth become Naxalites, but that is not true.”

Agreeing that there is a small proportion of youth sympathising with the Naxals or actually participating in their activities, Ansari argues, ”We are not saying that through Community Radio we will bring them into the mainstream but, we are saying that all the rest of the youth should avail of government schemes, those who have done so have successfully secured their livelihood, they know good from bad and the meaning of development. They now know how to get their rights and entitlements.”

He argues for Community Radio as a potential medium to wean young people from the path of violence. “We can only use it as a medium to try and steer the youth on to the right path,” he says.