About two years back, soon after the Central Government released the community radio guidelines, PARD applied for a license. However, the Letter of Intent was not provided to PARD. Moreover, no reason was provided for rejection of the application. PARD applied to the High Court, and this is perhaps the first instance where the government has been taken to court specifically on community radio. It would hearten supporters of the movement to know that since the government had not given any reason, nor could they justify why they had rejected the application, the government just as suddenly passed the application.
A couple of months ago, PARD finally got its Wireless Operating License, with considerable patience and courage shown by director, Mr. James Rajasekharan, and with equally considerable help from Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA). Without any fund or any other kind of support, PARD mobilised internal support to set up a basic low cost radio station. Finally after receipt of WOL, UNESCO agreed to pitch in with some support through the International Program for Development of Communication (IPDC), a major forum of the UN, with member states pitching in with support. This support includes four capacity building programs, some nominal support for equipment and one transmitter and antenna from NOMAD India Network.
Set about 30 kilometers from Madurai, PARD Vaanoli has a full time team of 7 people, with 2 announcers, 2 field reporters and 3 reporters/editors. Further, PARD has also mobilised about 6 volunteers from Madurai who are basically slum development workers, but are expected to pitch in with the radio as well.
PARD Vaanoli has already started producing programs with their production set up, and in July, NOMAD India has successfully installed a transmitter and antenna. This means that PARD Vaanoli is all set to go.
While PARD’s courage and tenacity in starting their community radio station in the face of obstacles from the government and sans support from donor agencies, other civil society networks etc, the fact remains that PARD Vaanoli is a station in its infancy and still requires a lot of support in terms of capacity building; secondary equipment; seed funding, programmatic support, and so on.
It is with a sense of keen anticipation that one will watch the progress of this tough station, and how it will slowly but surely make a remarkable difference to the community in and around Thirumangalam, Madurai. We wish them all the very best, and hope to continue our association with them in the future as well.