Radio for and by the people is a radical democratic idea that is slowly getting its place in India through the government’s policy in support of community radio. The Restoring Force (TRF) has launched a community radio station in Gurgaon that addresses the needs of the hundreds of villages, semi-urban clusters, and urban slums that fall within a 10-km radius around Udyog Vihar. Despite the "Millennium City" tag that Gurgaon sports, more than half of its population continues to struggle with inadequate power, gaps in education infrastructure, and lack of knowledge about opportunities in education, livelihood and income generation. This, despite the fact, that a large number of these villagers either have substantial land holdings, or have substantial cash reserves from selling off this land.
In a community one of the key factors that can ignite change is access to information and the opportunity to air grievances and opinions. The result of over 18 months of hard work is Gurgaon Ki Awaaz Samudayik Radio Station broadcasting on 107.8 MHz FM since November 2009. The radio station in Gurgaon allows our community to go on air with their programming (the bulk of it created on-site in villages such as Garhi Harsaru, Sikanderpur, Sarai Alawardi and Dhankot) and is also a wonderful medium to reach this community -- because by its very sound and music, it is very evidently "their" station. The station records and airs folk music and folk ballads in Hindi, Haryanvi, Bhojpuri and myriad other dialects performed by local music groups and performers, children's music (much of it recorded by the children in government schools), and debates and discussions very much like Chaupals, that bring together diverse, but local, voices.
Career Counseling and Livelihood
Since TRF has already worked for many years in the area of career counseling, one of the programs that we are broadcasting is a daily on-air career program called “Hum Honge Kamyaab”. In addition, we have a weekly interview-based entrepreneurship program in which a member of the community outlines how he or she started his or her own small business. This program is called “Apna Nazariya, Apna Kaam”. Both these programmes work in tandem with job announcements drawn from the industrial and corporate belt in and around Gurgaon. In future, we are also planning a regular Speak English program to improve English speaking skills within the community, for both children and adults.
Our health program is two pronged. In addition to a weekly health program called “Swasth Gurgaon”, our add-on program is in partnership with St. Stephens Hospital Outreach Program, which works in the outlying villages of Gurgaon through its Integrated Rural Health Outreach Centre in Village Dhankot. In future, we also plan to have a weekend Talk to the Doctor program, wherein people can phone into the studio and talk to the doctor about their medical problems.
Women’s empowerment through awareness and microfinance
TRF has an exciting partnership with St. Stephen’s Hospital Outreach program in Dhankot which also works in the area of microfinance and Self Help Groups (SHGs). This finds shape in a weekly programme called “Nari Shakti” that outlines the concept of Self Help Groups, brings successful case studies to the radio, and encourages women’s empowerment through livelihood, awareness and good health.
Migration and Inclusiveness
Gurgaon has been built and shaped by the lakhs of migrant workers who work in the city’s factories, farms and offices. Our weekly program “Sara Aasmaan Hamara” brings the personal stories of Gurgaon’s migrant workers to the radio, as well as larger issues concerning migration.
Music is the key to building an engaging radio station. However, since this initiative has to ultimately be supported through community efforts, we have arrived at creative ways to build our music bank without having to pay royalty for songs. We do not play any film music. Instead, we have opened up our studio to anyone and everyone who wants to record a demo CD of music. In return, we only ask for Complete Broadcasting Rights to air that music on our radio station, at no charge. This is a win-win situation where artistes from all walks of life and all ages can get a CD of their songs recorded in a studio at no charge, while our community gets to hear a variety of music, ranging from Haryanvi folk, devotional, patriotic, festive, light and instrumental music. From songs to ballads to instrumental tracks, Gurgaon Ki Awaaz has it all.