Are proposed 118 CRSs functioning effectively as ‘agents of change’?

By Pradeep Kumar

Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, while addressing listeners of community radio stations (CRSs) across India from New Delhi during 7 to 7.30 PM on Friday had hinted about plan to increase the number of CRSs being ‘agents of change’ by reaching out to millions of people daily.

But, will the minister respond to about the present status of 118 new CRSs, including in six Left Wing Extremism affected districts, 25  coastal districts, 17 aspirational districts, three Northeast  and two J-K for which  NGOs, educational institutions, both private and public and Krishi Vigyan Kendras were given approvals as announced by him  on 13.09.19?

People of various Indian states having poor media coverage, particularly this land-locked state bordering China  would be immensely benefit from CRSs as All India Radio (AIR) has almost 97% coverage in Arunachal Pradesh, which I know being a permanent AIR panelist since its inception.

Numerous new programmes were launched in Itanagar AIR and to cite few examples: AIR’s ‘Window to Development’ was launched on 25.01,14 to suit itself with changing time and need of the listeners. It was a live radio bridge programme every Saturday during 8.40 am to 9.25 am to highlight relevant topics under flagship Bharat Nirman Programme Phase–III with experts in various North East AIR stations, including senior politician Bosirm Siram and planning secretary Sonam Chombay at Itanagar expressing their opinions, coordinated by Shillong Air station’s Sandipan Chakravarty.

ARUN FM Transmission: With signature tune of extended ARUN FM Transmission at AIR station here was heard on (01.10.17) Sunday with its formal launching by Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, he recalled his old memories of listening to the news and songs in local dialects. AIR Dibrugarh was only medium of entertainment and source of information for state people those days.

“People used to gather at a place and keep the radio in on mode long before the programme time and wait for the beeping of signature tune to listen to the favourite program every evening”. Listening to cricket commentary through AIR was also quite exciting and those are unforgettable moments.”

However, people’s attractions to radio was distracted with the passage of time due to advancement of technology, televisions and other modern gadgets, like smart phones and the AIR faced great challenges to keep pace with modern technological advancement.

He lauded the way AIR in overcoming such challenges by switching over from analog mode to digital mode for broadcasting across India as almost all AIR stations have been digitized to boost broadcasting quality.

This FM station has brought a revolution in AIR and made it popular among the masses for its easy accessibility to the listeners even in cars and mobile phones, Mein said and congratulated  Itanagar AIR for successful launching of ARUN FM.

He assured every possible support of the state Govt to improve AIR service in the state and also urge the Union Govt to set up radio stations with FM transmission in all districts.

He further said that The ARUN FM 103.1 MHZ will be an effective medium for dissemination of information on Govt activities, programmes and policies to state people and urged one and all to make best use of the service. He had also sought proposals from AIR officials to allocate fund but suggested to engage state’s young talents as an effective platform for their growth.

The prime minister reaching out to the people across the country through ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on every last Saturday of the month has proved effectiveness of the AIR, he said.

“Radio is still used as popular medium of entertainment and source of information in remote places where news papers hardly reach,” hydropower Development Corporation chairman Tungri Effa who accompanied Deputy Chief Minister on the occasion said that illiterate villagers and people of He requested the Govt to set up Radio Stations in remote districts too, to keep them inform about the development activities of the state.

While highlighting  Itanagar AIR journey for 31-year, programme head J B Nabam said that beginning in a  kutcha house in 1986 in Naharlagun, it was shifted to present locations in 1996.  Initially it started with 1 KW MW transmitter and upgraded to 200 MW later. He further informed that ARUN FM 103.1 Megahertz is a part of vigorous initiative taken up by AIR director general to improve broadcast quality. Initially ARUN FM will air its own programs from Itanagar AIR for 7 hours and very soon it will be extended to at least 13 hours on its own 10 KW transmitter with an aerial coverage of at least 40 KM radius. The programmes will be broadcast in 16 dialects, including three new local dialects -, Hrusso, Sajolang and Tutsa and news bulletin in 11 dialects besides updating news headlines hourly. DDK director (engineer) K Morang, Itanagar AIR engineer head Sanjay Koul, and senior AIR artists Bengia Hemanta and Taba Yal Nabam  Nabam had also spoken.

Radio bridge prog on 03.02.17:North East is known as one of the richest cultural hub of India where people live in the lap of nature by following their time-tested age-old cultures and traditions: “The mouth-watering and healthy tribal cuisines could catapult NE’s high potential tourism sector with pragmatic policy support and involvement of all stakeholders besides spinning money and generating direct and indirect jobs,” was the outcome of a radio bridge programme of panelists where examples of foreign tourists relishing local cuisines at Guwahati’s International Tourism Mart of 10.01.13, hosted by Arunachal tourism department was cited.

Radiocity Itanagar: Justifying the fact the radio being the most effective communication mode in this Himalayan state with 98% coverage, IPR Minister Bamang Felix had launched Radiocity Itanagar 90.8 FM, to run 24X7 in 90.8 MHz frequency at Naharlagun on 07.04.18.

AIR’s Koj Tacho, in an interview once had said: The CRS, oldest electronic media, was used as a household item by almost everyone till 1990s in Lower Subansiri district HQ Ziro, but now it has almost vanished from the valley and the people seem to be forgetting its importance. During ’80s and ’90s people used to assemble to record songs, folk tales, discussions etc when local news was relayed from AIR Dibrugarh, but when AIR station was commissioned in 2000 people started losing interest.

There were only five AIR stations at   Itanagar, Passighat, Tawang, Tezu and Ziro in  Arunachal Pradesh as per I&B Ministry’s record as on 24.04.03.

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