Sunday, January 08, 2006

Radio can make waves

The aim of every community radio should be to create awareness among local people in various fields, Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor of Tamil Nadu and Chancellor of Anna University, said while inaugurating the week-long international workshop for community radio station managers at Anna University.Elaborating on the role of community radios in developing the community surrounding it, the Governor said they empower the people and nurture local knowledge and are committed to human rights, values, social justice and it is a must for socio-economic development.Community radios can make a strategic contribution to the development of the community. The right of common citizens to express the kind of society they want to live in is a fundamental part of an alternative vision of development. This vision could be attained by the democratic participation enabled by the community radio, he said.Strengthening rights of freedom of information and freedom of expression would lead to effective interaction and free discussion. Community radios can play a vital role in uplifting the status of women in society, so that they can become opinion-makers, Barnala said.Turning his attention to Anna University, he pointed out that the university should work out the modalities for forming women self-help groups in the areas covered by their FM. They should identify the social problems of villages, produce programmes to educate people on health, cleanliness and protecting environments. The youth in villages should be enlightened on the latest developments in science and technology and career programmes.Reiterating the fact that community radios can play a major role in education, Barnala also said the role of Anna FM as a home tutor in teaching lessons for the schoolchildren and clarifying their doubts would be of a great assistance to poor and needy students.He also urged Anna University to come forward with plans to increase the coverage range of Anna FM so that more and more people in the local villages benefited from this effort.Dr E Balagurusamy, Vice-Chancellor, Anna University, said community radios have a major role to play in the development of society and pointed out that radio was the only medium which could reach the rural masses, because many villages in India were not accessible; and these villages may not have electricity facility and the villagers use radio as a medium for knowing what is happening in the outside world.Stating the reason for Anna University starting a campus community radio, the Vice-Chancellor said the institution could bridge the gap between technology and people.Tarja Virtanen, advisor for communication and information, Asia-Pacific region, UNESCO, said for the past two decades, many community radios were started in various parts of the world owing to the reduction of cost of radio transmitters and other equipment.David H. Walker, education specialist (education technologist), Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada, stated that in the near future every village in the world would have one community radio station. Dr Usha Vyasulu Reddi, director, Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA), New Delhi, said the workshop would analyse all aspects of community radio and various experts would share their experiences.Prof K Jayaraman, Registrar, Anna University, said the university was the first to get the licence to start a campus community radio in the country, 10 months ago.N Arun Kumar

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