Community radio in indigenous language can root out Naxalism

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.

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