| 20 Jul 2024
Sangham goes on air

MUMBAI: History was made today when Sangham Radio, India's first Rural Community Radio Station was inaugurated at Machnoor Village in Medak District by former Supreme Court Justice P B Sawant. This is also the first all woman community radio station in Asia.

The radio is completely owned, managed and operated by women from marginalized rural communities. The radio will broadcast to a radius of 25 kms covering about 100 villages and a population close to 50,000  The radio is facilitated by and licensed to the Deccan Development Society an NGO working in the Zaheerabad region of Medak District for the last 25 years.

As soon as Justice Sawant switched on the 50 watt transmitter at 1100 hours today, the voice of the DDS women went out on air when they sang : Akka Chellenlu Podaame mana sanghamku maatlada podaamey. [Come sisters let us go to our Sangham to talk], reflecting the aspirations of members of DDS women's sanghams. The Sangham Radio is their effort to use the airwaves liberated by Justice Sawant, who switched on their transmitter, from the state control through a landmark judgement in 1995. The women want to use this new media space to save their dying language and cultures, spread their message of sisterhood, ecological agriculture, women's control over seeds and a host of their issues.

Justice Sawant, recalling the way his judgement had been realised by the marginalised women of the DDS community, exhorted them to use their radio to reclaim their human rights and realise a true democracy that is distinct from the electoral democracy of the day which abandons people once elections are over. He recalled the revolution started 150 years ago by Mahatma Phule, when he opened a school for dalit girls and compared it to the Sangham Radio run primarily by dalit women and said that this was a second revolution, comparable to Mahatma Phule's.

Dr Bhaskar Ghose, former Secretary Information and Broadcasting, Government of India asked the DDS women to treat the running of the radio as a challenge and make it a vibrant and robust radio sought after by people.
"The challenge of tomorrow is much greater than the achievement of today. If you fail in making your radio work, you would be failing the community radio movement," he said.

Eminent journalist Kalpana Sharma, former chief of Press Academy Pothuri Venkateswara Rao and eminent artist Prof Laxma goud also spoke and saw a great role for the Community radio in altering the balance in the media world.

Sangham Radio, which will broadcast for about 90 minutes daily, is expected to enlarge its repertoire even while expanding its broadcast time.

Deccan Development Society director P V Satheesh, while introducing the Sangham Radio said that it was the realization of the media autonomy of the people who were completely ignored by the mainstream media.