It works at the turn of a button and a twist of a knob, it needs no electricity, and it is a portable box of information and entertainment. It is little wonder that the radio is the most ubiquitous piece of technology in the country. But are the opportunities it provides being fully utilised by NGOs in their development activities?
Not quite, according to the Bangalore-based Communication for Development and Learning (CDL), a non-profit organisation that works to “facilitate the use of communication as an integral part of the development process.” To help NGOs tap the scope of the medium, CDL has now produced a handbook, “Working with the Radio”. The handbook aims to “demystify” the medium of radio for first-time users and also suggests options for developing their own programmes.
The figures speak for themselves, says CDL: only 60 per cent of the country’s population is literate and can read the newspaper; only 10 per cent of households have television sets; only 1.2 per cent of the population have access to the internet. Radio, on the other hand, which reaches 91.42 per cent of the country’s geographical area and 99.13 per cent of the population, ought therefore to be “the preferred medium, for not only advertisers and media planners, but also for NGOs.”
Why this is not so can be explained by our notions of the radio as being a “mysterious and highly technical medium” that is “cloistered behind high walls and inside dark buildings”, according to CDL executive director, Shangon Das Gupta. Besides, history has shown that radio stations emerge as the first point of contact between locations of disaster and the rest of the world, the handbook points out.
When the Titanic sank in 1912, it was a radio station that picked up information from a wireless transmission device getting the rescue mission to swing into action, thus saving hundreds of lives; radio similarly proved vital after the Bhuj earthquake of 2001.
More recently, during the 2004 tsunami, the radio became the most important means of communication between the Andaman islands and the mainland .
The handbook is priced at Rs. 100. Visit http://www.cdlblr.org/ or call 25503481 for more information. [Source: The Hindu]