Koraput tribals listen to Dhimsa Radio

BY RAKHI GHOSH| IN Media Practice | 18/01/2014
Koraput's community radio Dhimsa has become the voice of tribals to convey their messages to the administration,

Tribals of Koraput, a district in Odisha, may not be able to deliver their complaints and grievances directly to the administration but with the help of community radio jockeys like Julie, Sahadev, Bhakta and Udai, they are definitely heard.

Koraput, about 500 kms from Bhubaneswar, may not have many modern facilities, but the tribals there have Dhimsa Community Radio, a dedicated FM radio station to listen to their voice. The first and only community radio in the southern part of Odisha, Dhimsa FM Radio station, established by the Unicef in collaboration with Southern Odisha Voluntary Organisation (SOVA) in 2012, is now a forum that pays attention to the problems faced by the local people. 

Dhimsa's radio jockeys are known in the community for their support through communication. As the local dialect in Koraput is Desia, the villagers found it difficult to understand the government programmes and schemes. In comes Dhimsa Community Radio, which solved this problem by delivering these programmes in Desia.
Founder of Dhimsa radio station and secretary of SOVA, Sanjit Patnaik expressed, "Communication is an old trend and community has a practice of listening radio broadcast by All India Radio. Going little ahead to this, Dhimsa Radio provides community members a medium to share their views, raise voices, and present their performances in kind of drama, song and interviews. For the first time tribal community is feeling great experience in taking the flavor of FM band listening radio programs in their own dialect especially voice of their known community members".

Manu Jani, a villager of Dumuripadar says, "The mainstream media never give enough space to our concern while community FM radio played an important role in solving our long-standing demand. In last Panchayat election it was promised to us that the connecting road to our village would be repaired soon, but all in vain. When our grievance aired during the radio programme, district administration immediately responded. He called the concerned engineer to enquirye about it. Later, he sanctioned Rs 3 lakh and the construction of road was completed by the end of January 2013". 

Patnaik explains, "Radio Dhimsa is well equipped with a sound digital studio; skilled staff members received regular training on different technical issues, thematic issues & also the capacity to manage a station by themselves.  Presently, the radio has about 30 thousand listeners by covering 45 villages and some points of Koraput township area. Though we have the technical challenges due to hilly area we manage to reach our target population through narrowcast activities". 

Talking about its cost and other expenses he said, "The approximate cost for station management would be around Rs 2 lakh a month (including salary of staff, station equipment maintenance and management and also need based capacity building for staff and community members cost). At present this cost is met by Unicef and we have also started mobilising different government community mobilisation fund from different departments like - District Water & Sanitation Mission (DWSM), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Sarva Shiksha Abhijan (SSA) etc. Our group-M team has been provided with training in marketing skills to work out a sustainable financial plan of Radio Dhimsa like how to generate revenue from local market, government line departments, and NGOs". 

Presently, this community FM radio broadcasts programmes from 9 am to 12 noon (Udila Suraj) in the morning and 6pm to 9pm (Sanjuabela Gharejiba Bela) in the evening. Besides this, they have repeat programmes from 2pm to 5pm (Uparbela Aram bela) during afternoon. The programmes cater to the need of community people, ranges from health, education awareness issues to interviews of community leaders, experts, government officials and tribal songs by community singers. 

Talking about Dhimsa Radio programme "Lenka Master Ro Kahani", popular among children, Trinath Mali of Gulelput village said, "Our village is cut-off by Kolab River and citing this as a major problem the school teacher was attending only twice a month. But with this Radio programme our children are now able to continue their studies. Parents also understand the need of education and are sending their children to hostels for further studies. They have also formed a Bal Sangh providing a chance to the children to express their grievance related to their rights."      

Udaynath Hantal, popularly known as RJ (Uday) says, "The Radio Station has given us a wonderful platform to air our community problems. In this area, child marriage is a burning issue and with regular intervention we created awareness among the community people. Even though television sets have replaced radio sets but our frequency available in FM band and youths using mobiles are tuned to our FM band. This brings a change in the community as the youth are extending their helping hand".   

The experience of running a community radio station has helped the RJs learn much more about the needs of the communities and have come closer to the community members. This doesn't limit to only knowing about their needs but Radio Dhimsa also stands with the community in times of action. In A chat show program focusing on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MGNREGA) has helped in the settlement of wage payment of 3 villages. This has helped them build a good and positive rapport with community members. They have also formed listener's club in 45 villages and have supplied them with radio sets. This has helped them bridge the gap of communication between the communities and district administration and bring in social changes.
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