India’s community radio emerges as winner in spreading COVID-19 awareness
Citizens all across the country are under quarantine due to the lockdown imposed by the government to contain the spread of novel COVID-19 virus. With people confined to their homes, it is important that news and information about the health crisis reach each and every section of society for their awareness, and community radio plays a significant role in that process. Various community radios are working in their respective communities and regions around the country to broadcast news about the Coronavirus outbreak in the age of social distancing.
There are over 270 community radio stations working in India, educating people in remote areas. These radios stations were started to promote community interactions with the concept of ‘by the people, for the people and of the people’, and now they have become a significant and reliable source of information amid the pandemic crisis, besides public/private broadcasters. Community radios also help in tackling misinformation about the COVID-19 virus among the rural population.
For instance, Jadavpur University’s community radio, RadioJU, has been working tirelessly to keep the people living within a 10 km radius of the varsity updated about the disease. Around 17 community radio networks are providing news and information to the rural audiences in Odisha. These community broadcasters have been ensuring that listeners engage in various activities to lift up their spirits during the difficult time.
In Uttarakhand, 7 community radios have come together to develop a multi-level network called ‘UMEED’ in order to reach the remotest villages in the state to inform, educate and reassure the people. In Kolkata, filmmaker Kasturi Basu and some of her friends have started a new web radio station titled ‘Radio Quarantine Kolkata’ where people can share their experience and interact with each other to deal with the crisis. Haryana-based community radio station, Alfaz-e-Mewat, is making a huge difference by broadcasting information received from the district collector, chief medical officer, and other government authorities to over 200 villages.
These radio stations receive massive feedback from the local communities about their queries, need for supplies, violations of lockdown, which help them serve the people better.
However, in the wake of Coronavirus lockdown, the CR stations are also struggling with funds and resources. To ensure continuous functioning of the radio stations, Community Radio Association has written a letter to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting appealing for advertisements and a one-time grant which will help in procurement of resources and equipment to carry out the services for regional communities.
Meanwhile, on April, the total number of Coronavirus cases in India crossed 13,300. Over 1700 people have recovered from the disease, while there are over 11,200 active cases. So far, more than 430 deaths due to the virus have been reported in India.