| 24 Mar 2023
No invitation to annual National CR Sammelan for non-operational CRS

MUMBAI: Operating Community Radio Stations (CRS) and GOPA (Grant of Permission Agreement) holders for CRS for the past four years have always waited for the annual National CR Sammelan. But this time, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (MIB) failed to invite them for the Sammelan that is scheduled to take place at the start of the third week of March.

Along with having to wait for approval from WPC (Wireless Planning Coordination), the GOPA holders also have to chase the Ministry to get invitations for the annual workshop. Social worker Biswajit Padhi who is based in the interior of Odisha said, “I was looking forward to the workshop as it was very important for my community which will benefit from my learning.” Padhi has written a letter requesting the Ministry, PM’s office and other government organisations to look into the issue.

Sources informed that the Ministry claims that it failed to receive the letter, even though Padhi has written to various platforms including the Community Radio Association of India (CRS). Despite not being a member of CRA, Padhi received a response from CRA vice president N A Shah Ansari, who believes that the Government should invite GOPA holders and not just limit the Sammelan to functional radio stations. “There will be only 100 CRS that attend the workshop, and by inviting GOPA holders the attendees might add 40-50 more attendees, which should not be a concern.”

Padhi claims that workshop for CRS are helpful. “It was through one such workshop conducted by MIB that I got an idea to set-up a community radio station in Khariar,” he stated. He feels that the Government should have a policy in place if they really want a CRS revolution in India.

He continued talking about his journey in the region with the tribal community who has no access to any form of radio frequencies. When asked about All India Radio’s reach, he said, “We do not get a signal for All India Radio here. People depend on television for news here, which is always disrupted due to shortage of electricity."

But the real challenge for Padhi will be to generate interest in CRS as the community is not quite used to radio. Padhi stated, “Once I get all the necessary permission to operate a Community Radio Station, I will start training the community to collect information from various sources."

The workshop is organised by One World Foundation India on behalf of MIB but the invite goes out from the Ministry.