Community Radio Bridges India’s Rural-urban Divide

With about 1.2 billion population spread over an area of 3.2 million sq kms, minority communities in India faced a challenge to get their voices heard.

To overcome this problem, India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), has invested in the growth of community radio especially in communities with low levels of literacy as a way to bridge economic disparity and rural-urban divide.

MIB Joint Secretary, Supriya Sahu, said the community radio is a low power station meant to be set up and operated by local communities who could use it to communicate various issues including health, education, women empowerment, drinking water and sanitation, local governance, as well as disaster management.

She said this at a presentation for the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) International Innovations Awards, held in conjunction with the CAPAM 2014 Biennial Conference at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here.

MIB India is vying for the award through the community radio initiative.

Supriya said that since its inception in 2004, there were over 170 community radio stations operating in various parts of India, with the ministry planning to set up more than 300 additional stations.

“Community radio is also included in India’s five-year plan with US$16.6 million allocation,” Supriya said.

The MIB team, along with five other competitors from India, Trinidad and Tobago (three), Malaysia (two) and Singapore (two), presented their innovations to the jury on Sunday and the winners will be announced at the CAPAM President’s Dinner tomorrow.

Supriya also said that the MIB had simplified the community radio application process with faster approvals, provided technical support to communities, enhanced synergy between stakeholders and increased the government’s involvement.

“These are the bedrock of community radio broadcast and have laid a solid foundation for meaningful growth of community radio stations in India,” she said.

She added that the effort has shown positive outcomes including increased government transparency and credibility, citizen engagement and emerging community-led movements.

The CAPAM biennial conference themed ‘Public Service Transformation: A New Conversation’ is organised in collaboration with the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) and the Commonwealth Secretariat.