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Deepak Acharya

Local Radios for Social transformation

The subject of social transformation should be an issue of concern to everyone and not just the government and some organizations. Traditional discrimination still prevails in the society. Human trafficking, domestic violence and discrimination against women are still rampant. Many organizations have been working on these issues, but real change is yet to be seen.

The subject of social transformation should be an issue of concern to everyone and not just the government and some organizations. Traditional discrimination still prevails in the society. Human trafficking, domestic violence and discrimination against women are still rampant. Many organizations have been working on these issues, but real change is yet to be seen. 

While localizing the issue, the challenges and hindrance that had been faced previously should be internalized and necessary amendments should be made to ensure that these issues are not faced again. Media can work effectively on this issue.

For social transformation reformation, existing law and policy should be reformed. Decentralization of authority and power is one way to empower local level and necessary laws should be formulated to ensure people enjoying the perks of decentralization.

Community radios has been playing the role of media in disseminating information and creating awareness through its programmes in the grassroots level connecting it to the central level.  The diverse radios producing programs in various languages has made it possible to share information to a wide range of people throughout the country which has helped in social transformation. Radio day is going to be observed in local and provenance level in Nepal on 13 February 2020. All radio broadcaster and radio station of Nepal are preparing for celebrating the day.

Though the problem is not solved by the radio itself, it helps in challenging traditional thought process and helps bring change from the grass root level. The reach of the media has also ensured that many incidents are not hidden or sidelined but are featured nationwide and leave the authority with no other option but to take action and help bring positive change.

Caste, gender, class and creed based discriminations still exists in our country. The feudalistic social and cultural practices have ensured that the marginalized and poor communities are left far behind from the benefits of development. After emergence of the local and community radios, people are more concerned about their daily needs and their supply chain. Community radios are organized, operated and managed by the people in the community and it is generated to protect, promote the social, economic, cultural and political condition locally and nationally.

Community radio serves as basic medium of communication for the right to information and freedom of speech. Community FM Radios are trying to change the daily life style of their audiences through radio programmes. Community radios are picking up grass root level issues, which is making direct impact on the people’s life. Community radios are producing and broadcasting radio programs on various social, political and economic issues in various languages. Community radios are producing and broadcasting radio programs on more than 40 languages.

In Nepal, community radio is a reliable source of information for the elite to the people who are marginalize. Community radios have been facilitating to bring positive changes in the community through radio programmes. Various awareness programs and public service announcement are broadcasted every day. Participation of women and people from marginalized community has increased in development, political and economical activities. In the rural areas, women have been started local enterprises either from their homes or rented spaces. Service providers are providing quality services to the right holders. Community radios have been empowering local people and making policy makers accountable. In 2015 April earthquake and 2017 October flood, community radios were only means of communication at the local level.

The history of community radio started in 1947 when Bolivian Labor Association operated the radio for the benefit of their community. In Nepal, the history of community radio began in 1996.

Currently, 325 community radios are operating in 77 districts of Nepal. These radios are operated by rural community including women, Dalits, Janjati and other communities.  These community radios have been shifting the power paradigm from elites to the poor. Community radios in Nepal have been addressing the diversities of the country in a proper manner as they are broadcasting awareness by airing radio programs and news .

Nepali society is very diverse as it features people from 125 ethnic groups speaking 123 languages. One can see an entire different culture, geography and languages in every 3 hours walk from North to South or East to west. Only mainstream media and national radio cannot unleash the potential of diversity of this magnitude.

The country remained poor as the people were not adequately aware in the past. In Nepal, 65% of the total population and only 42% women are literate.  Community radios have the capacity to reach to the entire population of the country. However, other media have very limited reach and basically serving the elites. In this situation, community radios are considered as the absolute means of communication for rural communities. Community radios have been connecting the community with the state.

Community radios are the sources of information for the people from rural to urban and poor to rich. It is more than mechanical equipment's, studios and frequencies. It is the means of hope, aspiration, security and future of their audiences. They broadcast pro-poor contents mostly overlooked by the commercial or mass-medias. Community radio is the approach rather than physical assets. The community radios are being operated by the communities to supply their informational needs for transforming their life and society. Community radios are not for profit institutions. They are operating by the community based organizations for their social benefits.

Community radio are advocating for the elimination of all harmful traditional practices through the means of radio programs and their social movement. To change such practices Association of Community Radio Broadcaster (ACORAB) has introduced community journalism for children and community journalism for sister in-law (Buhari Journalism).  Community radios are working to eliminate social practices such as witchcrafts, untouchability, Chaupadi, dowry and child marriage.  Furthermore, skills and entrepreneurship development programs are also considered as prioritized sectors to help eliminate such social practices.