Radio for and by rural population in India

May 2008 -

Gajendra Rana, once started as a singer at village soirees and now he record his own albums. Rana's talent was given a platform by the Henval Vani Community Radio, which involves youth (18-35 years of age) from 18 villages of Uttarakhand in North India.

Community Radio is making a difference to thousands of ordinary people in villages and small towns across India everyday. Using the radio as a medium, villagers produce their own programmes and narrowcast these using simple tape-recorders and microphones, in their community. This humble concept has touched many lives - it has encouraged children to learn, brought timely information to fishermen and farmers and empowered women.

Henval Vani Community Radio Vani reaches out to over 3,500 listeners as it broadcasts from Multimedia Centre in Chamba, Uttarakhand. "From start to finish, ordinary village and town people are involved in the production of a radio programme", says Rajendra Negi of Henval Vani. "Our stories cover a range of issues like community ills, traditional knowledge, among others".

The production process involves a number of steps, the first being discussion and debate on a story idea. Volunteers go to villages for suggestions and feedback. "This way, we know what the villagers expect from the radio and what we are doing", explains Negi. The next step is data collection from common people, experts and specialists. After this, a script is prepared, which includes drama, songs, public service announcements etc. Finally, the programme is recorded, using two village youth, and narrowcast in the villages.

The programmes are produced in the two prominent languages used in Uttarakhand, namely Hindi and Garhwali. Henval Vani also has 10 hours a week airtime on World Space Radio (channel 1307), in which two locally produced programmes - Hamara Gaon (Our Village) and Yuva Manch (Youth Platform) are aired. With the government also recognizing the potential of this medium, community radio will hopefully see even better days ahead.