Driving Change through
Radio Bundelkhand

Community Radio in India was envisioned as the third tier of broadcasting in the country, to be owned and operated by communities across India. The policy for the sector was framed in 2001 after much debate and engagement with the government by civil society organisations. While initially the policy only allowed educational institutions to apply for licenses, a revised policy guideline was issued in 2006 that allowed civil society organisations to also apply for a licence to operate a community radio station.

In the years gone by, the community radio sector has learnt much and also has much to offer by way of its learning to policy makers. Indeed, with the revision of the guidelines in 2006, it was expected that the spectrum would be further within reach of the community. Engaging the civil society sector has made that expectation a reality.

This is also what our organisation has learnt from our experimentation with community media since our community radio station, 'Radio Bundelkhand' was founded in 2008. Located in one of India’s most backward and climate-sensitive regions, Radio Bundelkhand covers 100 villages reaching out to over 200,000 people.

In little less than 10 years, Radio Bundelkhand has emerged as a people’s radio station that provides them with a platform to air their aspirations, concerns and showcase their talent. For example, women use Radio Bundelkhand to question patriarchal norms in the society, farmers learn about sustainable agricultural practices and local musicians use it as a launch pad to earn decent livelihoods.

Thanks to Radio Bundelkhand, local artists and musicians who never had any access to mainstream media due to language and communication barriers have now got a new lease of life. They use it to create and air their music. For the local Bundeli people, Radio Bundelkhand is a ‘cultural powerhouse’.

Shubhkal – a campaign of Radio Bundelkhand not only familiarised farmers of the region about climate change adaptation techniques but created a dialogue within the community about climate change and its impacts. Here, the community radio acted as a bridge between the local community and an outside community of scientists and policy-makers for a two way flow of information. Kaun Banega Shubhkal Leader - a rural reality show on radio identified 25 change agents to address community-level social, economic and environmental issues.

Similarly, women who work at stone crushing units are taking charge of the radio to communicate and demystify the science involved in ensuring health and well-being of women and girls. A new radio series will cover some of the most tabooed topics such as menstrual hygiene, sexual and reproductive health, pregnancy, adolescent health etc.

In the coming years, Radio Bundelkhand aims to influence a diverse population in its listenership area through its radio campaigns and convert passive listeners into active radio contributors.

In sum total, Radio Bundelkhand has strived to reach the power of the spectrum to people who would otherwise be in the shadows of the digital divide even today.

Bijoy Patro


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