Echoing the voice of the people

Echoing the voice of the people

A  community radio functioning from Budikote village in Bagarpet taluk of Kolar district has been playing a pivotal role in educating villagers on agriculture, health, education and law.

Namma Dhwani (Our Voice), is the lone community resource centre in the State. The programme content of the community radio focuses on social evils such as dowry harassment, environment protection, local news, general knowledge, music, model lessons, and issues like dowry, environment protection, agriculture, health, indigenous medicine, devotional songs, cookery, live debates, government schemes and entertainment. 

The community radio project works in tandem with two non-profit organisations, Voices, a Bangalore-based development communication unit working for marginalised sections of society, and MYRADA (Mysore Development And Rural Development Agency), which has been working in the area for over a decade.

The radio also lays thrust on celebration of national festivals, cultural events and music. Initially, several training sessions on programming techniques were conducted by experts from AIR, following which volunteers began to make programmes on topics such as sericulture, organic farming techniques, child and reproductive health, insurance etc.

Something for everyone

The radio airs programmes from 6 am to 9 am, 12 noon to 2 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm –  for a total of eight hours a day.

The community resource centre was set up in 2002 to provide information through local cables. It launched its own radio facility on 90.4 Hz in 2008. As many as 158 villages in a radius of 12 km around the radio station are being benefited by the service, says V Mahadevaswamy, the programme manager of the radio station.

The Community Resource Centre, which acts as the perfect link between government departments and the village. The Centre is also a database-cum-knowledge bank for adjoining villages, who can access information ranging from vegetable market prices to news about disability welfare schemes. It has a database of folk songs, folktales and information on indigenous medicine systems.

“Several NGOs from neighbouring states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu have studied this model of community radio,” resource person M Chalapathi said.

The community centre is equipped with a small transmission room that has a transmitter, sound mixer, speaker and microphone. The radio broadcasts information on the benefits available to farmers under various welfare schemes of the government. It has also been used a platform to drive home the message on the need to construct personal toilets.Farmers are educated on crop pattern, sowing, spraying of pesticides, etc. 

Farmers share their experience through the radio, which serves as a platform for exchange of information. “Around 20 farmers listen to the radio everyday in our village,” says Manjunath, a farmer in Dinnur village.

The resource centre has also imparted training to local youth in several trades under Godrej and Boyce Skill Training Programme. Around 80 youngsters have been trained in the past three years who have taken up income generating activities.

In addition, as many as 143 associations of 48 villages have joined hands with the community resource centre. 

Namma Dhwani represents the community’s voice. The rural community has found an effective medium to voice their concerns and opinions. The system has built and strengthened the capacities of the community, especially the rural youth in handling and operating sophisticated equipment. 

The community has discovered a medium in this community radio system, to unleash its creativity. If the community’s response is any indicator, then Namma Dhwani can be rated as an effective platform in promoting rural communication. No doubt, the radio is a laudable effort in  harnessing technology for community uplift.

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