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Community radio in indigenous language can root out Naxalism

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By Harshmeet Singh

Naxalism is widely regarded as India’s biggest internal security threat. One of the major roadblocks faced by the authorities in fighting naxalism is the inaccessibility of the affected areas. While the naxalites blend among the villagers with ease, the authorities find it hard to reach out to the villagers using conventional means.

A number of adivasis living in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand come under the influence of naxalites since the authorities do not talk to them. Even after 7 decades of independence, it is only the creamy layer of adivasis that has jelled with the mainstream India by learning their language. We have let down the adivasis and presented them to the naxalites on a platter as easy prey.

Reaching out to the secluded areas where these adivasis live is a difficult task which can be achieved through airwaves. The authorities need to make use of the radio much more judiciously to put an end to the Maoist problem. The process of launching a short-wave radio service needs to be eased out.

It’s not that these areas have no radio services. A couple of years of back, community radio service was started in the naxal-affected areas. But only few, any if, programs run in the adivasi languages such as Gondi. In fact, AIR doesn’t broadcast a single bulletin in the Gondi language. Adivasi broadcasting cooperatives have the potential to be the game changer.

An exception to this is CGNet Swara launched by Shubhranshu Choudhary. This voice-based portal allows the common man to report and catch up stories related to their local surroundings. Anyone can easily record a message by calling at their number and following simple instructions. These stories are moderated by a group of journalists before being broadcasted in the local language. 

Launching a radio station in India is much more difficult than launching a newspaper or even a TV channel! Considering that mobile penetration in the adivasi areas is relatively high, a robust radio service through which adivasis can be connected with the mainstream has the potential to dent the naxal problem.

Community radio presenting programs in the indigenous language has much more potential of uplifting the adivasis and rooting out the naxal problem than increasing internet penetration through Digital India.

(Image courtesy: www.cemca.org.in)

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Skip English, focus on Indigenous Languages for India’s Development

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By Harshmeet Singh

“A common perception in India is that Indians need English to succeed. But is it the other way around in reality?”

The sky high vision and aim of becoming a world power that we carry with respect to our nation, are based on an extremely shaky education system which considers mimicking western theories the best way to impart knowledge.

With such a rich culture which is renowned worldwide, you would imagine that Indian students of social studies and humanities would carry with them enviable knowledge of Indian traditions, language and vedic sciences. But unfortunately, all our education system offers to them is western ideas and western thoughts.

Our Anglophonic education system is majorly responsible for a continuing colonized mindset that regards English as a mark of superiority. As the African and Asian nations tread the path of development, their share in the global GDP will see a surge in the coming decades. The economic influence of the English-speaking nations is set to dip in the near future.

With Spanish giving a tough competition to English in the US, English is looking for an emerging economic power that would save its status as the global language. In order to rope in Indian audience and viewers, a number of US and UK news channels have now started covering news from the Indian perspective.

India adopted a three-language for its education system in 1960s, when the Indian economy looked up to US and UK. With English taking the center-stage in this policy, the regional languages started losing ground. Despite vast changes in the economy and India’s global standing, we never thought of re-visiting our language policy for education to save our indigenous languages.

English

Some of the most renowned scientists in the world have taken birth in non-English speaking nations, thereby ruling out the perception that English is necessary for professional success in the field of Science and Mathematics. Though knowledge of English, like any other language, is certainly a handy skill to have, it is a myth that English is ‘necessary’ for professional success.

There are innumerable examples to break this myth. The onus of breaking this myth for the Indian youth lies with the Government which needs to ensure that there are ample employment opportunities for those who chose to give English a miss, and rather concentrated on other skills.

The first step in this regard would be ensuring that there is high quality educational material in indigenous languages for the students at all levels. The UGC initiated Bharatvani project is a major step in this regard. Proposed to be developed as the largest language portal in the world, the Bharatvani project aims at delivering knowledge in almost all Indian languages, with the help of multimedia formats. It plans to aggregate multimedia content from the government, writers and other non-governmental organizations and put it on a common platform. UGC also plans to rope in publication houses and different universities to make it a success.

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