Community Radio for the Disabled in India


Community Radio is a service which serves geographic communities and communities of similar interests. The content broadcasted by them is popular and local in character but it often overlooked by commercial broadcasters. There are three types of radio broadcasters in India. They are public, private and community radio channels. The main factors which make community radio stand out amongst others are that it is owned and managed by the citizens of a particular geographical area. They are non-profit organisations and operate for the welfare of the people. It provides a medium to express emotions, raise awareness and tell stories and experiences to the people they serve.

One such example is radio Udaan, which is an online radio for people with disability. It gives the people with disability a chance to show the country how talented and hardworking they are. It is produced and webcasted by people with visually challenged disabilities. This radio station has crossed nearly 100 countries and has more than 20,000 listeners. They are just like any other radio channel but furthers the cause of disability in India. It has been three years since Radio Udaan has been functioning and working for the disability issue.

Radio Udaan has a total of 28 shows, out of which 4 are dedicated to disability. This helps raise awareness on the topic of disability in India. This radio channel was started in February 2013 and since then it has held three national conventions. Most of the Radio Jockeys of radio Udaan have government jobs. They contribute to the radio station after working hours. In fact, since it is a voluntary organisation the employees are not even paid. They dedicate 3 to 4 thousand rupees from their salary to keep the radio running.

The owner of Radio Udaan, Danish Mahajan, spoke about the Right of person with disability act 2016. He said that the saddest thing was that the media spoke about every other bill, including maternity bill, black money bill but did not cover the disability bill. The only journalist which conducted a Debate regarding this was Rajdeep Sardesai. However, this topic was taken up in detail on the shows of Radio Udaan.

Radio Udaan hold panel discussions to help the blind people prepare for competitive examinations. They have shows such as ‘Lets play 20-20’ and ‘Ms. Confusion’. Twenty-twenty is like a game show where a question is given with multiple answers. The contestants need to reply by Skype or WhatsApp. It is based on general knowledge. In Ms. Confusion, questions on logical reasoning are asked. The show also teaches the students on skype. They also conduct discussions and debates. Debates are done on social issues and discussions on disability issues. For disability discussions they invite certain organisations and their representatives. Through these programs, discussions and debates they give a helped hand to the disabled.

The community radio also launched a campaign called Udaan campaign. Under this the radio jockeys in their area would hire a cab and travel 15-20 km in rural areas. Their representatives will go door to door and distribute pamphlets. They will talk to people and sensitise them about the of disability in India.

Ever since the radio was launched it has achieved a number of milestones. It has held workshops which focus on better socialization of the disabled. The radio station has held national conventions in New Delhi and Ludhiana. It has imparted online training on Information Communication Technologies to the visually impaired people. Radio Udaan began live coverage of events pertaining to the visually challenged.

Some of the objectives of Radio Udaan are as follows. To raise awareness about the topic of disability in India and work towards an inclusive society comprising of disabled and non disabled individuals. To be the watch dog of the disabled and human rights organisations. They also intent to reach out to the government and propagate the necessity of inclusive education.

One of the main challenges facing radio Udaan today is that of funds for proper equipment’s and editing software’s. The reason behind this is the financial crunch faced by them. Even though its monthly expenditure ranges from fifty to seventy thousand, since its inception Radio Udaan has just received 2 lakh rupees. There are very few organisations that have supported it monetarily. One being The National Association for the blind.

Just like Radio Udaan focuses on the issue of disability in India there are many other community radio channels who have taken up various initiative. For instance, Radio Sangam which is village level women’s collective. It furthers the cause of women in different areas. Such as biodiversity, culture, ownerships and food sovereignty. There is also the Anna radio which is run by the Anna Malai university in Chennai. It is the first campus community radio to start broadcasting in India. Therefore, community radio takes up social causes, whether it disability or women.