UNESCO, in partnership with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), Government of India, public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, and NGO Seeking Modern Applications for Real Transformation (SMART) organized a two-day event to celebrate radio as a medium of mass communication at India International Centre, New Delhi on 25 and 26 July 2022. The event titled ‘The Radio Fair: Sustainable Development Goals on the Air’ also commemorated the National Broadcasting Day.
The festival aimed at bringing all three tiers of radio broadcasting—public, private and community—on the same platform to have creative discussion with multiple stakeholders. The panels exchanged innovative ideas with some of the leading Radio Jockeys, including conversations on the future of cities and radio, engaging communities for nutrition, radios for good health, and reservation of airwaves for women.
The inaugural panel included Ms Neerja Shekhar, Additional Secretary for Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Mr Mayank Agrawal, Chief Executive Officer, Prasar Bharati, Mr Hezekiel Dlamini, UNESCO Advisor for Communication and Information for South Asia, Mr Siddhartha Shreshtha, Social Behavioural Change Chief, UNICEF, Mr Kiri Atri, External Relations Officer, UNHCR and Ms Archana Kapoor, Founder, The Radio Festival.
This Radio Fair provides an opportunity to share experiences and encourage each other to do more. Some SDGs have now become emergencies and radio needs to carry this clear message to our communities and call for, what has now become very urgent engagement.
This is a celebration of fond relationship of radio and its uniqueness. In cases of calamities, we have seen that television cannot reach to the communities as efficiently as radio frequencies do. It is our belief that radio has a huge role to play in social change.
As the name suggests, there is no community radio (CR) without community. We need to see a higher degree of community participation going forward. The government feels that the rate of increasing CRs is very slow, and there is a scope for enhancement. To bridge the gap, we have identified 24 Lead CR stations who are tasked with the duty to enhance engagement and help aspirants.
Radio needs support to build further capacities in content research, production and dissemination on the SDGs, and therefore, UNESCO welcomed this initiative of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The second day of the event concluded with a day-long workshop with the 24 Lead CRs which addressed the issues and challenges faced by community radios on the ground. During this session titled ‘Leading from the Front', several ideas were exchanged, and participants unanimously called for better knowledge sharing and capacity building exercises.