How a Community Radio Station Changed the Lives of the People of Mewat

When the Government of Haryana issued an advisory 11 years ago that it would no longer work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Archana Kapoor and her team of social workers – who had been working towards education and livelihoods in 100 Haryana villages at the time – were devastated. The Delhi-based publisher, filmmaker, author and activist had to figure out some other way to continue working with rural communities.
Just then, she came across an article that said the Government of India had opened up the community radio sector to NGOs. She applied for a license, and in September 2010, Radio Mewat was born.
Today, it is a National Award-winning community radio initiative that has brought to the fore unheard voices of the most vulnerable and marginalised sections of society, and has become a powerful tool for empowerment. It has been featured extensively in both national and international media for its innovative programming, and in journals brought out by UNICEF and UNESCO.
In a place like Mewat where only 10 per cent of households own a TV, the radio still has relevance – and anyone with just a feature phone can access Radio Mewat for free.

"If you ask people whether they listen to the radio, most of them say no. But if you ask them whether they listen to Radio Mewat, they will say yes," smiles Archana, whose goal is to educate the community about their choices, whether it's to do with consumer rights, financial inclusion, Panchayats, health, education or livelihoods.
Over nine years, the struggles have been many. "We were worried about acceptance by a community that was inward-looking and resisted outsiders and the media. What many of us take for granted – access to schools, quality education, potable water, well equipped hospitals – are all a struggle for this community," explains Archana......

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