The Voices of the Unheard: In age of social media, community radio stations are conversing with those living on the fringes - Part 5

Radio Dhimsa
90.4 FM, Koraput, Odisha
The community radio station at Chappar village in Odisha's Koraput started with the sole purpose of protecting and reinvigorating local culture and traditional practices. It provides villagers a platform to showcase their talents and share their life stories. It also is playing its part of spreading awareness. The radio station tells audiences about their rights, disseminates accurate information about various government schemes and holds interaction with local authorities. It thus assists villagers in planning their lives in a better way.

Radio Dhimsa is working hard to expand its reach and grow in multiple dimensions. It currently covers 60 villages under Koraput Block's six gram panchayats. At present, South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA), which had set up the radio station in 2008 with UNICEF's support, is working in 16 blocks of Koraput and in Rayagada district as well. According to the radio station, Koraput's population is around 1.3 million and more than 50% of them are from scheduled tribe communities. A strong feel of exclusion and isolation works in them as only 11% are literate. Radio Dhimsa's target audience is these 2 lakh people in 60 rural villages and Koraput town.

From 2016, the channel started airing shows nine hours a day. Besides, its studio is used as a production house to develop jingles, make announcements and hold awareness programmes on the request of government departments concerned. At present, Radio Dhimsa Community Radio Station (RDCRS) has 10 reporters, of which four reporters and two supervisors look after production, recording, editing. Currently, all the staffers are enrolled as part-time community reporters, who are giving their leisure time to the station. Of the 20 volunteers, only four are paid.

Since its inception, Radio Dhimsa has engaged 60 village volunteers whom it has trained to use basic radio equipment with necessary technical guidance. From among these 60 people, some were recruited as radio reporters and the rest have been supporting these reporters from their respective villages. "Radio Dhimsa is the only media that broadcasts its programme in tribal language, gives a platform to people to showcase their hidden talents and to be heard. The level of acceptance from the local community is quite high," shares Sanjit Patnayak, secretary of SOVA.

Koraput district has a dominant tribal presence, and the rate of school dropouts is very high after Standard V among girls. Usually, after completing Class V, girls have to travel more than 3km from their villages to attend school. In most cases, their parents are hesitant to send their wards to school, as they believe putting this extra effort will yield little results — a girl has to be married off. Radio Dhimsa took it upon itself to change this situation. It started to air programmes on promotion of education for the girl child to spread the message about the government's Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyala (KGBV) scheme. It has received considerable success in its efforts. Tribal community parents have started to rectify their mistakes and 63 Class V dropout girls have resumed school.

At gram sabha and other public meetings, Radio Dhimsa is making it possible for the locals to raise their concerns on behalf of the community to resolve some key issues like road construction, health and hygiene and sanitation. In 2012 during a public meeting at Dumuriguda, villagers aired their demand for a road. Radio Dhimsa played the role of a mediator to solve the issue and affected villagers received around `35 lakh from Notified Area Council (NAC) and panchayat for road construction.

Source and Credit :-                        Forwarded by :- Shri. Alokesh Gupta

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