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Where No Newspaper Can Go: Community Radio in Odisha Is Bridging the COVID-19 Info Gap - News Report
Tikina Raut is a 28-year-old Self Help Group (SHG) member from Junei village in the Gop block of Puri district in Odisha. Baffled by violations of lockdown orders in her area, she decided to use an innovative way to inform beleaguered villagers about the dangers of the novel coronavirus and the consequences of defying the lockdown. Raut, who is an ardent listener of a community radio from her area, had kept recordings of the important parts of the broadcasts to inform the less knowledgeable of the consequences of violating the lockdown orders.
“I have been keeping myself updated on government announcements and trying to understand the importance of expert advice, like on social distancing, through community radio. Whenever I see some villagers flouting government directives, I make them listen to the audio recordings of some of the experts and senior government officials,” she told The Wire. According to Raut, due to the lockdown, access to Odia newspapers in her village has stopped. However, the availability of smartphones and radio sets has enabled villages to get authentic information from community radio stations in the state.
Community radio stations belong to the third tier of radio broadcasting in India, after public broadcaster All India Radio and commercial FM channels. Odisha is home to 17 community radio stations and most of them have proved to be harbingers of change during these testing times. A number of newspapers in the state have stopped printing papers, while the those that are printed fail to reach rural and remote areas during the lockdown. These hyper-local, low-power, low-cost setups have been mandated to serve the local population and are presumed to be run by the local community.
“This is a time when the mainstream media outreach is either restricted or halted. The rural population, which is filled with varied information and myths, now seek answers about their local areas and issues. They want to know about the curbs in their locality and also the facilities available in their close vicinity,” said NA Shah Ansari, chairman, Radio Namaskar, a Konark-based community radio. Also the National President of the Community Radio Association of India, Ansari said that authentic information from government sources was used to provide the local population with the right information at a time when social media rumours were spreading fast.
“We are informing them about day-to-day decisions taken by the district administration and local government. We are interviewing the Tehsildar of the area, Block Development Officers (BDOs), local Public Health Officers and others to give them authentic information, especially talking about the impact of the new orders on their locality,” Several government officials are now using the service as a means of mass communication. They are making public announcements, talking about recent decisions and curbs, and also allaying fears within the rural community on issues surrounding COVID-19..................
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Source and Credit :- https://thewire.in/media/odisha-coronavirus-radio Forwarded by :- Shri. Jhavendra Kumar Dhruw.