Survey: Making waves

While it is known that radio reaches about 90 per cent of India's population, what is new -- and good news -- is that it is an extremely effective tool to propagate panchayati raj, a decentralized mode of governance. This was the central conclusion of an impact assessment survey initiated by a non-governmental organisation, Society for Participatory Research in Asia (pria), in nine states across the country, and carried out by New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- (Credit: Amit Shanker / CSE)Survey

While it is known that radio reaches about 90 per cent of India's population, what is new -- and good news -- is that it is an extremely effective tool to propagate panchayati raj, a decentralized mode of governance. This was the central conclusion of an impact assessment survey initiated by a non-governmental organisation, Society for Participatory Research in Asia (pria), in nine states across the country, and carried out by New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies. The assessment is the first of its kind in India; the results were presented at a "National Meet on Radio Communication for Strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions (pris)" held on October 28, 2003 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

According to the survey, people found radio to be a potent source of knowledge on development activities and other rights accorded to them under the pri framework. While 16 per cent of people surveyed had heard at least one episode of programmes on panchayati raj, around 16.7 per cent heard the programme more than once. More importantly, 51 per cent discussed the content with friends, relatives and neighbours. "This shows the impact of the medium," says Sandip Das, the project co-coordinator, pria. People got encouraged to participate in Gram Sabha activities. Says B G Verghese, member, Prasar Bharati Board, "Radio has a community-building capacity if you can create interest in the context of what is being broadcast. People identify themselves, their programme and the situation; they feel that they are sharing them with others."

However, the non-interactive format, and presentation style, seemed to be the main hurdles why people were not getting hooked on. The drama format, says the survey, should be given priority, adding that wherever this mode has been used, the results were better. Mark Tully, former bbc broadcaster from South Asia for three decades, says, "Radio is an intimate medium, so the programme has to be highly personalised. We need to remember the time of the broadcast of the programme. It is a hugely flexible media and no one should stop experimenting with it."

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