Self Help Groups
Community Radio Stations
Self-Help Group (SHG) is a small voluntary association of poor people, preferably
from the same socio-economic background. They come together for the purpose of
solving their common problems through self-help and mutual help.
The SHG promotes small savings among its members. The savings are kept with a
bank. This common fund is in the name of the SHG.
The Supreme Court of India ruled in its judgment of February 1995 that "airwaves are
public property". The judgment inspired several free speech advocates, academics
and community members across the country to being a concerted campaign to
legitimize community radio in India.
A UNESCO sponsored workshop, hosted by an Andhra Pradesh NGO, Deccan
Development Society (DDS) from July 17- July 20, 2000 in Hyderabad issued the
'Pastapur Initiative' on community radio that urged the government to take its
intentions of freeing broadcasting from state monopoly to its logical conclusion, by
making media space available not only to private players but also to communities.
In South India, Deccan Development Society worked with Dalit women's collectives to
start Sangam Radio, the programs for which were made by the community, but were
Another landmark initiative was jointly set up by VOICES and
MYRADA - called Namma Dhwani (Our Voices), where programs were
produced by communities in and around the village of Budikote (about
100 kilometers from Bangalore),
By early 2003, the government of India released the first set of
community radio guidelines, but unfortunately, restricted eligibility to
educational institutions only.
Anna FM was India's first campus "community" radio station. Launched
on 1 February 2004, it is run by the Education and Multimedia
Research Centre (EMRC); Programmes are produced by students as
well as community.
According to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, the
current status (as on 25 April 2013) of Community Radio in India is as follows:
No. of applications received so far, from 2004 to 05 Feb 2013 (including 104 under
2002 CR Guidelines): 1200
Grant of Permission of Agreement(GOPA) signed: 191
Operational Community Radio Stations: 148
Number of applications rejected: 545
Applications under process: 227
The village is just two hours away from bangalore, it is situated in the Bangarpet taluk
of kolar district in south-eastern part of karnataka, population is about 3000 in about
The occupation is mainly agriculture, though some farmers mostly suffer from
Sericulture and pesciculture are practiced till some extent.
Budikote has about 15 self help groups, two government schools and a hospital.
Historically, it is the birth place of Tipu sultans father Hyder Ali.
The area is also rich in terms of heritage and monuments, but has little in terms of a
history of fine arts.
There is a significant problem in electricity supply, but not much compared to the other
areas in the IPDC project.
People have faced problems with water supply, and there have been water related
epidemics in the past.
Budikote has good media penetration with cable television, commercial FM radio
from Bangalore as well as All India Radio from Bangalore.
The local government in Budikote is inefficient but has done occasional good work.
Women’s self help groups are also active in the area.
It’s a managing body with 18 projects at present working directly with 20 backward
draught hit areas in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It was started in
1968. It specifically takes care of the poor- marginalised to build and manage their
own institutions, to develop their own livelihood strategies, to associate in order to
lobby effectively to change oppressive relations, to access resources and build
They foster ongoing change in the rural poor.
They help them make innovative local level institutions
rooted in values of justice, equality and mutual support
Focus is given to health of the rural environment and the
legitimate needs of the poor when they make a livelihood
base for them
They build institutional strategies and skills to preserve
the rights of women, children and marginalized- leading to
Concentrate on the primary health care and education to
control infant and mother mortality rates and to prevent
water borne diseases
Strengthening producer and market institutions for the
livelihood of the poor
Myrada and Namma Dhwani go by the same agenda: "Building institutions of the poor
and marginalized which are appropriate to the resource to be managed and objective
to be achieved"
Influencing public policies for the poor
In India, All India Radio (AIR), the public service broadcaster has been playing
a very useful role for decades in providing relevant information to the people
in the remotest parts of the country.
Although, in Budikote AIR transmits in three languages and its programs are
popular, the local community felt they were not relevant enough to their
People thought that community radio could provide them with more timely and
useful local information.
Due to its focus on local concerns and aspirations and the interactive nature
of its programming, community radio can be a powerful medium for education
and development and it also caters to the needs of the specified place and
specially in Budikote which AIR was unable to do.
In 1999 a baseline survey conducted to assess information needs and preferred
media revealed that the community wanted locally relevant information on crops,
market prices, health (particularly women's health), etc.
They wanted this information through audio channels mainly because of low
comprehension, poverty and literacy levels.
They expressed the wish that information be broadcast in their own dialect, which is a
mix of Kannada & Telugu. None of the available media, both private and government-
owned, catered to these specific needs mirroring the massive information gap that
exists in the rest of the country.
Namma Dhwani in many ways serves as a demonstrative model. In 2000, 28
volunteers selected by community based organizations were trained in interviewing,
recording, scripting, editing, and mixing skills.
These trainings were complemented with exposure visits to government and private
audio studios, as well as community radio stations in Nepal.
Volunteers from 35 villages created regionally relevant programmes and played them
at Self Help Group meetings in different villages.
Formed with help from our partner NGO in this area, MYRADA, these Self Help
Groups are constituted of women who get together to engage in micro credit finance.
Most of these women are semi-literate or illiterate, engaged in agricultural work with
very little access to information on issues pertaining to their lives.
The success of the narrowcasting prompted the establishment of an audio production
center in Budikote with the help of UNESCO in September 2001.
The Management committee is comprised of 10 women and 2 men who in turn
represent the members of their Self Help Groups, amounting to approximately 230
women and 25 men.
Each group made a token investment and accepted responsibility in being trained to
become the managers of Namma Dhwani.
They meet twice a month to take stock of programming, feedback and administrative
They have hired 3 studio staff from the community who are responsible for
programming, feedback and other administrative matters, as well as looking after the
Namma Dhwani conducted a loudspeaker narrowcast, every Tuesday, during the
Around the same time workshops about audio techniques were organized for children
from the government school.
Their enthusiasm to adopt newer methods of learning prompted a cable connection
from the Namma Dhwani studio to the classroom of the tenth grade students.
This initiative was implemented with the help of the parents, the teachers and the
Block Education Office.
During all these different phases of Namma Dhwani, one of the questions that was
often posed to us was "where can I listen to my own voice?" This sentiment found an
echo in the vision statement of the management committee which said that they
wanted every household of their village to be able to listen to Namma Dhwani.
Starting in March 2003, a direct to home cable connection was established in
collaboration with the local cable operator.
Side by side, in April 2002 computers were set up at the centre. Basic training in MS-
Office & targeting school dropouts and other interested community members such as
farmers and women continues.
Because of the poor telecom infrastructure Internet Connectivity has been
inconsistent. The computers are also used to archive information and administrative
systems as well as digital editing.
Enrich, a front page interface developed for UNESCO by the National Informatics
Centre has enabled ND to archive data like contact information about medical
facilities, health programmes with graphic details, and Namma Dhwani's own
programmes in the local language.
Namma Dhwani through its existence has acted an instrument of advocacy supporting
community radio legislation in India.
Being one of the few initiatives that demonstrated the power of community radio,
before the policy was finally released in November 2006, Namma Dhwani was open to
experiment with different ICT tools.
Implement a radio browsing model using relevant information from the internet,
packaged into audio programmes to provide access to local as well as global
Extend programming to other villages, using loudspeakers and deferred cable casts
Become a computer and audio production training center for people from other
Namma Dhwani is a small village, a micro study in a landscape of gigantic, vertical
media growth. However, it is an excellent example of synergizing communications with
information in ways that the rest of India has yet to do.
Currently, no programmes are being produced at the moment at NammaDhwani.
Frequency of narrowcast have reduced to twice a month. All the focus is right now on
preparing to go air once the license is obtained from the government.
With an archive of more than 800 hours, they are more than prepared to go on air, the
day they get the license.
Active community members participating in CRS – Women’s Self Help Groups set up
Since ND has been inactive for the last six months, the team also had been absorbed
to do other activities.
The telecentre where now computer training takes place is active. Children and youth
members attend these classes, for Rs.1500 for a three month certificate course. This
is an attractive feature that is used to look after some of the running costs.
The Management Committee of the Resource Centre is the Management Committee
of the radio station.
They are keen to update themselve on the latest developments vis-a-vis the policy,
and also equip itself with the challenges of going on air, something which no NGO has
The management committee members are raring to start the station afresh with their
roles and responsibilities clearly outlined.
For about 8 days BK was not able to get drinking water because the pipes of the main
borewell were broken. The irritated women gathered in front of the building, discussing
their problems. One of ND's volunteers Nagaraj, 20, borrowed the recording
equipment and recorded the opinions of the women. He then played back these sound
bytes to the panchayat secretary who promised to look into the matter and have it
fixed in the next 2 days. Sure enough, the water was gushing by the end of the next
Similar issues about drainage leakages, street light etc. have been articulated by the
community members while collecting feedback about the panchayat programmes.
When cablecast, men have informed us that appropriate action has been taken by the
Individual villagers have also experienced the power of the radio. Narayanswamy
lived by selling milk till her only cow died. When she claimed insurance money for her
cow, the agent tried to cheat her.
He said he did not owe her money. She went to his office a dozen times in vain. Then
she talked about her problem on Namma Dhwani. The next day, the agent gave her
“This radio station is ours because it
speaks about us, in our language and in
our accent. When I turn it on, I hear the
voices of people I know,” says Triveni Narayanswamy.