With the aim to empower the people, especially who belong to tribal communities a community Radio was started. The main motive behind this initiative is to improve the social, environmental and economic status of the indigenous communities of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve by enabling them to find their own voice via the medium of Community Radio.
Radio Kotagiri, the first Community Radio Station in the Nilgiris, running out of the Keystone Campus at Kotagiri, is producing a series of 20 programmes on various aspects. The programmes are aimed at spreading awareness among the public on the role of Panchayati Raj Institutions and the need for public participation. The initiative is financially supported by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
Radio Kotagiri is a well functioning Community Radio Station that is managed by members of the indigenous communities at all levels from content creation to production to broadcasting to day to day running of the Radio Station. A set of trained indigenous people (barefoot journalists) are playing a key role in the success of our Community Radio Station.
There are already a set of tribal youth who are barefoot journalists for the Seemai Sudhi newspaper. Their capacity would be built so that they can produce content for the community radio, produce audio clips, disseminate information from the hubs, collect data for updating the databases at the hubs and center, access online sources of information themselves. In short, they would be examples within their communities.
The content that aired is focused on filling up information gaps in key areas to address the issues of the communities. Thus it directly contributes to improving the capacity of the communities to address the issues themselves. The radio programmes attempt to utilise resources from within the community (such as village elders, organic farmers, healers etc.) so that the relevance to and acceptance by the people is maximum. Radio programmes can be in any dialect so it reaches to the full diversity of audience.
The CRS has a limited range (15 km maximum) around Kotagiri. Therefore to reach out to communities that are outside this range, narrowcasting of the CRS programmes is needed. In areas out of reach of the CRS, volunteer network plays the program in their neighbourhood.
The genre for the programmes have been kept on topics such as, Conservation of biodiversity and nature, Tribal culture and arts, Community development including government programmes/schemes, Climate change awareness, Sustainable development, Sustainable Livelihood options for indigenous people, Youth development including education counselling, Health related information, Environmental issues, Organic agriculture, market price information etc. The programmes are generated from the sources such as Government dept, local community, own production, from NGO’s/institutions, experts, school/colleges, and hospitals etc.