Community Radio for Revitalizing Rural Development

: A Study of JanaDhwani Community Radio Centre in Sargur, H D Kote, Mysuru District.

Narasimhan G*
Dr. HK Mariswamy**


As the world moves towards democracy, the concept of decentralization, participation is still lurking in most of the media. The Centralization of the Communication process and the top to down communication approaches usually alienate the common man from development discourses. Knowledge and information are essential for people to successfully respond to the opportunities and challenges of social economic and technological changes, and which is not possible in the present communication process which is alienated from the theme of participation. The democratic and decentralized version of media is achieved through community radio. The working of community radio signifies the growth and participation of the common man in program creation. It is participatory communication that enables planners to consent to people’s needs and requirements. This paper analyzes the role of community radio in building participatory communication and its role in revitalizing rural development.


Rural development has various dimensions. India is a country that is embedded with villages where the majority of the economy depends on rural-based factors. The development of India lies in the development of rural areas. Rural development discourses have been shifting their emphasis from intellectual idealism to technological bureaucracy to present participatory development. For rural development activities, communication between local communities is vital where participation is essential which leads to self-analysis in the community to generate realistic proposals of new development initiatives. So dialogues between rural communities are essential which can be delivered by decentralized media like community media where it works as a popular-forum of interaction.

Community radio is a radio which works with local communities to cater to their needs and necessities. Community radio is often called local radio, alternate radio, rural radio, decentralized radio, and cooperative radio which signify most of its characteristics. The essence of community radio is its participation or access to a program created by the community. This character has made community radio a champion of rural development and social change.


  • To find out the participatory aspect of community radio.
  • To analyze the working of community radio as an alternate voice for the voiceless.
  • To find out community radio working in catering to the needs and necessities of locals on day to day basis.
  • To examine the contribution of community radio in bringing social change and development in the socio-economic arena in rural areas.
  • To examine the role of community radio in empowering the community by creating awareness and knowledge.

Major findings

Participation: Participation of rural and urban communities can make participatory development and finally makes development a reality for the disadvantaged especially the poorest of the poor. For any rural development activity communication between local communities is vital. Participation promotes self-analysis in the community to generate realistic proposals for new development initiatives. Hence, a dialogue between rural communities can make people more self-reliant. Community radio works on the basic principle of participation. This is the major outstanding character of the community radio where most of its programs are produced by the community. Jana Dhwani provides an opportunity for the community to create programs where broader guidelines are given on the technical aspects of program creation. The community radio operators are the community people whose participation has enriched the listeners with affinity and intimacy. The principle of participation has made JanaDhwani more credible to the tribal and other people in the vicinity. This aspect of participation in program creation is absent in mainstream media and the void is filled by the community radio.

Voice for voiceless: This is the very common and general assumption of people towards community radio. The problem is the access to mainstream media has made the community radio an alternate voice. The non-represented, diluted voices can be consolidated under the banner of community radio and people can air their ideas, opinions, and voices. It is the community’s participation that makes community radio a harbinger of voice for the voiceless. Unrepresented, dejected voices are given a platform to represent themselves with the broad notion of the right to speak of diversified interests.JanaDhwani provides an opportunity to the tribal community under the title  ‘Nanga Kaadu Nanga Jana’ (Our Forest and Our People) program which works as an alternate voice for the tribal to air their ideas, experiences, and culture in their local dialect which can make community radio in reality voice for the voiceless.  People on the periphery are allowed to communicate.

Attending to the needs. This character or assumption towards community radio is realized only when it reflects the needs, desires, and aspirations of the locals in their programs.  Participation of the community can make the programs that are most in-demand with the community. Thus the community radio programs represent the immediate and most wanted needs of the community on a day to day basis. The program Nammuru ( Our Village) provides routine information to the people, like the local happenings, government-aided beneficiary programs, information related to agriculture, health, education, and other related issues which are most sought by the locals. Also, information is given to the people on various developmental schemes of the government and it makes the community benefit from the schemes. This has made Jana Dhwani an effective communicator of development.

Social change and Development: The prime importance in Jana Dhwani is given to the community development in the streams of health (Arogyadangala/ Health in our home); education, spreading awareness about diseases and their prevention among the tribal population, availability of doctors in hospital is also communicated. Special programs are produced to spread awareness about tuberculosis which is the most common disease among the tribals. Other programs related to social change and other important areas like agriculture, Raithadhwani ( Voice of Farmer), and personality development where special programs are produced by agricultural scientists and professionals. For women’s development, folk programs are made.  ‘Mahila’ (Women) program caters to women empowerment wherein information is communicated on health issues related to women, women education, self-employment, and other related issues. Thus, JanaDhwani provides vital information to the locals by benefitting the community in all streams of life health, education, agriculture, community development.

Empowerment and Awareness: Empowerment is a vital issue among the rural community where the development streams many times have deviated from the broader lines of understanding. Jana Dhwani initiates voluntary behavioral change among people. It improves family welfare by adopting new practices, decision-making on social issues, and participation in public life. Special programs are done to spread awareness on the ill effects of the caste system, blind beliefs among the tribal because of lack of awareness. This has necessitated the Jana Dhwani spreading awareness on superstitious practices among tribal and this has made programs more credible. Tribal people are invited and programs are broadcasted on the issues haunting their community.

Conclusion: Sikka defines development as “a process of increasing capacity of the social system to fulfill its own perceived needs at progressively higher levels of material and cultural well- being”. Jana Dhwani plays a dominant role in the day to day problem solving, enriching rural culture, empowering the masses with their participation. This innate character of community media makes media intimate, personal to the people where their desires are fulfilled. The decentralized media houses without gate-keeping fulfill the common man’s right to communicate, promote diversified interests, and also promote multiculturalism among grassroots. Another major benefit of the community radio is that simple technology can be operated by semi-skilled and even illiterates. This makes community radio a harbinger of change and development.


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  2. M Abdul Rehman Pasha, 2014An audio approach to Development Communication, Bangalore
  3. Pavralavinod&Kanchan Malik, 2007Other Voices, Sage publications India Pvt Ltd, New Delhi.
  4. S. U Khan,2009, ‘Community Radio of rural development’, Aligarh Muslim University.
  5. UNESCO India http:/
  6. Community Radio Forum India
  7. JayalakshmiChittor, Compendium regarding Community Radio in Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India.
  8. Paul Neurath and J.C Mathur, 1957, An Experiment in Farm Radio forums, UNESCO
* Research Scholar, Department of Communication, 
Bangalore University, Bangalore.
** Professor, Department of Communication,
Bangalore University, Bangalore.


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