Community Radio

Travelling by the KSRTC Rajhansa I heard a language I had not heard in years, familiar, yet unfamiliar one got the drift of the language it was Byaari the language of the local Muslims. Which my friends Shameem and Naseem spoke. And it was being aired on the community radio.

The young twenty something kid told me, “aunty I listen to only this bandwidth” more curious about it asked him, he says they have small programs that talks of their community, the events happening there, it was like you are part of the community even you are not physically present.

“It’s better than YouTube, because I can hear when I drive, or when I work.” Actually it is true, I remember the radio from my growing days, since licenses were required to own them, and few people owned them. The Ajjarkaad, tower had a public broadcast which my father says was on since radio entered the human world. People would be seated on the rocks of Ajjarkaad, with their children playing in the sand dunes and maybe some even ambling in the park, the news and songs from vivid bharati or AIR would heard.

Dinner time began with the 8 O’clock news.  At the end of “swargiya kundanlal sehgal’s” song one began getting ready to go to school. Then of course there was fight to listen to the oral teasers of movies, sometimes ghazal programs, various debates and talk shows. I remember being part of the couple youth programs and being paid a princely sum of 105/-Rs. for it.

Somewhere the louder and more demanding sibling of the radio has taken over, the TV, it is intrusive and offensive unlike the radio which is rather more personal.

Goa had such a powerful airway that its bandwidth was available even in places like Angora, in 1961 when the Indians landed, the shut the station down for 25days and when it opened again, the station has become impotent. There are places in Goa where bandwidths are not available.

Content is another issue, with the centre controlling the airway, and programs the issues relating to the community, the language of various communities is getting lost. Like the Byaari and Nawayati communities of Konkan-Karavali, community radio’s maybe a good way of rebuilding the community.  we might actually escape the tyranny of the shrill screeching monotonous RJ’s of Radio Mirchi and 92.7 FM,

When Mr.Sajan Venniyoor made his presentation at ICG at the community radio awareness program, he shared with us the community radio’s in various states, and showed us the status of community radio in goad… it was blank.

Like I mentioned before 1961 Indians bombed Goa shut it down for 25 days, and has stayed stifled before it went right up to angora. Community radio would be a great platform to address the Goan community, revive the Goan culture, and since 2007 the government has opened airways to public. Though individuals cannot have bandwidths, NGO’s universities, colleges can all have them.

Community radio covers up to 10-15kms; it can be tweaked up to 20kms, if the towers are placed on the hilly terrain the radio waves travel much more.

Canada has a community radio called Mango Radio which addresses the Mangalore and Goan community. Kutch has mahila Vikas sangathan  radio which is for the women of Kutch, the issue that the central government came up with  was that it was close to Pakistan border, but how does it matter. After Pakistan has FM station along its border that broadcasts and the waves are received in India.

A community radio is a very personal experience, it is as if, the device is speaking to you, it can follow you where ever and give you company even as you work. It is like sitting in your living room and debating on issues that are relevant to your small community.

If I were to tweak the slogan of democracy a bit… community radio is of the community, for the community by the community. The management of this can be done either by a group of people, or an individual or it can be done to colleges and universities,

Community radio’s being smaller and locally organized it allows, inclusion and participation. It also creates a sense of ownership and belonging. It allows use of technology economically appropriate to the community rendering external controls out of the play.

When someone’s buffalo went missing people asked the local radio man “raga” to help it is so within the community it empowers the community to do its own problem solving. The community radio basically runs on content, access, community participation, self management are all part of it.

The initial layout cost is  a bit steep, for a good one, however the government does support a bit initially, the biggest disadvantage is the minute the bandwidth is allotted to an outfit its billing begins, and there is no exit policy,

community radio
recorder for radio transmission

Some interesting community radio heroes, the Deccan Development society in pastapur, is a women run station as is the Kutch Mahila vikas sangatan project at Bhuj. Bundelkhand has its station run in the local language as Bundelkand is split between two states and it does not belong to either state. The gurgoan community radio is sliced away the elite migrant dwellers, to address and connect to the original Haryanvi populations.

The story of Radio Raghav from bihar is quite interesting. Like the bootooth radio of madhyapradesh where the songs are shared through Bluetooth and broadcasted over speakers.

It might be an interesting option in community building and connecting.

The Community Garden at Taleigao

devancha bhaat (1)
Community Garden at Taleigao

It is such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth to feel at one’s finger tips the possibilities of the new seasons. Growing up in rural west coast, between fields and kitchen gardens we pottered around, it helped us connect and the single greatest lesson that we learnt was that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that  as the sun shines and people can still plan and plant, think and do, we can, if bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.

With  habitat growing aerially, and earth being entombed in cement, we seem to create quite a havoc.

But sometimes there are small hopes that pops up like this patch of garden field at Taleigao, it is marooned by aerially rising buildings, but yet holds like hope. I am not talking of the fields that the farmers own, there is a patch of field where there is a community garden.devancha bhaat (3)

This is an movement spear headed by the late dada Panduranga Athale of swadhyaya, where people come and work with the earth, they grow and tend to the garden. The proceeds can be taken by the people who contribute or they are sold and the money goes to the movement.

There are couples who want to re-bond, who take to working in these patches together.  They are not allowed to get their kids along on these time schedules, the band of swadhyayees are so committed that they walk or cycle around to villages creating these community gardens.devancha bhaat (4)

There can be no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden if he/she is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.

I was thinking of my grandmother Kitta-doddamma, who used to tell us that garden, “hitla-thota” as she called it, called for a lot of dedication, sacrifice, which why the agrarian India worshiped Bali, the spirit of sacrifice. She used to tell us that being with plants one learnt patience and the power of sacrifice, the seed in sacrificing its skin, the soil in sacrificing its nutrition, the nematodes of the earth they contributed too, the rain with the water to the soil,  finally when the plant came up it was moment of celebration the bringing in of abundance in every way.

devancha bhaat (5)
sweet potato

Quest for my Tribe- before internet

Image courtesy google

It is almost 15 years since I discovered cyberspace, a wonder world, were I could travel my economic, family, constrains didn’t exist. About 10yrs back I moved in, and now I am a netizen, its great here, we get to live inside where the weather is always awesome.

Before the internet, I did not fit, in other people’s company was dull, gloomy, unwelcome it was a strange situation of being at once bored and boring. I felt like Dr.Ried   socially handicapped, and didn’t know when to stop being a facto-pedia.

In a world before internet the only escape mechanism I had was reading, so I acquired the habit of reading, it was as if I was constructing this refuge for myself from all miseries of life. Besides the alternate universe offered by books, museums were a great place to go. Nobody actually recognized me for what I was doing escaping the only title I received was a nasty, “show off”.

It was wonderful to yank myself from this world, of ridicule, being treated like an unintelligent duffer to a world that once existed, and still did in my imagination. The result despite of pretending to be a fluffy social creature I was a loner. Let me share this one with you, if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you it is not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before and people continue to disappoint them.

Then opened the beautiful Cyberspace, a consensual hallucinating experience, then discovered by few, but experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts…a graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system, unthinkable complexity, lines of light ranged in the no space of the mind, clusters and constellation of data, like city lights, receding.

What would people do with their lives today, I am not focusing on only the young like Kurt Vonnegut does, it is society in general, the most daring thing to do is to create stable communities that is what happens in cyberspace communities are built. These are not about being identical; it is about maintaining our individuality and finding comfort in the overlap.

The cyberland has created communities that transcend geographic boundaries, for me it gave a sense of belonging.

Since 1993 every single day, the media chants that internet is changing our lives. It has become an acceptable belief.

If cyberspace has allowed me to find my community, it has also normalized amateur pornography! There is no other justification for the amount of naked people on the World Wide Web. Quite few of them doing it for non-monetary reasons. 15 years ago it would have unimaginable  … a fat and forty matron, doing the belly dancing and someone out there actually watching it…life was about re-runs of here’s Lucy and Buniyaad.

Image courtesy google

Sometimes I wonder if  we refuse to turn off our computers, turn off our phone, log off facebook and just sit in silence because in those moments we might actually have to face up to who we really are!!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Creating a community with Links that Last.

ubuntuFor the past few days I have been viewing Savdhan India that repeatedly telecast. On hand awareness is good and self protection is important. On the other hand it is also poisoning the family, community and interpersonal trust.

Community is an important part of receiving the support we need to navigate through life. One marvellous thing about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we could not as individuals. We pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people even those in deep distress and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.

I wonder if we need drugs, possibly because we have lost each other.  That is the only way I can explain the use of drugs legal and illegal, May our lives are intolerably painful or dull. There may be some of us who their work and find no rest in their leisure. But most of us are estranged from their families and neighbours.

Globalization seems to isolate us from one another, it is rather difficult to forge meaningful connections, self-protection and mistrust prevents us from reaching out to neighbours and peers, and we consequently feel like we don’t truly belong anywhere.  Creating a community is definitely great way forming bonds that eventually solidify into long-lasting friendships. The primary need is a willingness to rise above the walls of suspicion and doubt that keeps us from bonding. I remember my father telling me, “Don’t trust anyone unless he proves that he is trust worthy” but the most daring thing to do would be to create a stable community in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.

When this friend entered the town and tried to break into the community I could see tremendous resistance we all had.  Then there are people who create their own communities based on commonalities.  But the simplest thing I realized was what my neighbour Dr.Kamal Shivakumar did, our stuff had landed and we were unpacking, at dinner time she walked up to our house knocked the door and handed us dinner.  It was a wonderful gesture.

At the end of the day no man is an island, entirely by himself. Everyone is a piece of the continent , part of the main,  everyman becomes important when we involve ourselves in mankind, so we don’t need to know for whom the bells toll: they toll for thee, and me.

Feeling lonely – an incomplete understanding.

Feeling lonely – an incomplete understanding.

Conversations with God is a turn point book in my life. Where the author talks of souls being from the same fabric. And he actually likens it to the aroma of onions being fired in a room and the aroma diluting as it wafts away from the room.

Sometimes I thing, feeling lonely is very much like that, that when we have lost the idea that we are all one and none of us are separate from the whole.

There are days when I presume like me you feel lonely too, but the very idea of loneliness comes from the false notion that we are separate and isolated parts in a world filled with other separate isolated parts. Actually there is no way we can really be separate from our world.

This whole concept of being alone is an illusion, like the skin that looks solid and all enveloping despite the fact that it is really porous. The air skin interface is blurred that we are not really aware where the skin ends and air begins, all the same our skin bears the effect of the change in the quality of the air, when it is dry our skin becomes dry and when it is humid our skin becomes moist and supple.

The author conversation with god applies the same principle, that it is really difficult to distinguish the boundary between one person and another, particularly when our actions tie us together so inextricably. Every move we make has an effect that touches all the people around us. On a more subtle level, when we share space with another person we often pick up on their energy, feeling how they feel attuning to them, this happens spontaneously without us being aware of it. We are part of the realities of the people around us, because we take form from the same energetic force and this force unifies all life. This force is the light that/ all the great mystics and gurus encourage us to move towards and this is the light we dissolve into when we move beyond our individual egos.

I did try to apply reading and what I did figure is loneliness is temporary condition based on an incomplete understanding of what we are made of, more relevant the presence of loneliness worked as a catalyst for exploring my ideas about reality.  I tried testing the boundaries I believed separated me from the life within and all around me, I discovered I was not so solid after all and that I could not really be alone.
There was some things that said, like Elizabeth Gilbert summed up it up eat pray and love — “I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love


As I was doing landmark curriculum for living, one thing that we did at the last stage was going into the community.

We are so caught up in our personal lives that we forget that we have an obligation to be responsible members of our communities.  There are people for whom expressing this responsibility is so interwoven into their personal lives that it is simply a natural extension of who they are. Others might need to take a moment to consider how to be more responsible for the communities in which we live.

One of the participants went on a drive to plant trees in the society, what started off, within in society eventually created a ripple on to the neighbourhood.  Along with weekly home-grown vegetable exchange happening.

Communities thrive on the talents of their members, so one approach to the community is to see what we can offer and find ways to bring that into the community that we belong.  Like one of the participants organized the monthly bill paying service.

Here I would like to share about Kannamma, our anatomy professor’s wife, who ran the Mahila Samaj at Manipal as a social service activity, was actually instrumental in creating the community bonding in Manipal. Today she is almost hitting ninety, but she goes to the nearby hospital and writes letters on behalf of the patients to their friends and relatives.

There was Saraswathi aunty who organized a moonlight kaituttu-oota (eating with your palm.) – All the kids would sit down on the grass, and food like bisibele bath (spice rice) and mosaranna (curd rice), would be served on our palm, we had to eat without using plates and dessert was always gulabjamoon.

Somehow it’s the artists of every community who tend to be the pied pipers.

The old communities are no doubt weakening, but creating new ones are up to us.

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
― Kurt VonnegutPalm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage


akshayapatraWhen we were kids, it was quite acceptable for kids from the villages to attend the town school; those who had relatives in town went to their house for lunch.

Then there were houses that took on “vaarada oota” that is families would take on feeding couple of school going kids once a week. The kids would each at a particular house on a particular day and move on another the next. The families had a system so that the financial burden would be shared. The parent’s kids if they could afford it, thank the feeders in kind, but otherwise just bless them.

Then there were those that carried their lunch, and for those did not fit into any of these there were free lunches at the temples. These are called as prasadams, or blessings usually sponsored by the donations people made to the temple.

This system ensured that the children had a proper lunch and it also built bonds between people and built a community. somehow somewhere this system has died out.

I am come from the temple town of Udupi, where every temple has the concept of annadhana.  Anyone can walk in there to eat.

Temples of Sringeri, Dharmasthala and many places even the small ones do have an entire time and space block for school kids to eat. The fare is nothing fancy, rice, dal, some vegetable usually locally grown non glamorous one, and a glass of chaas. Fair enough.

Gurudwaras up north have these facilities too.

Many small towns the school timings take to account the temple lunch hours. The problem with the temples in the south is that the NGO’s created various issues about the temple feeding the children. Like quality of food, there are accusations of segregation of children and anything that catches the fancy.

I really do not see, what is wrong with it. The government does have the midday meal courtesy UNISCEF but why get into something when the community has created something for itself?

As long as the children are provided with food, that is nutritious, and education to carry on with life and livelihood I think we have made a start.

If we as a community, can take responsibility of nurturing our community, in the long run we would have greater bonding between us, and it would also bring about tremendous emotional intelligence within the society. If ever I could envision Akshay Patra—be it the current NGO that tries to feed, or the one Draupadi owned I really look at it like a community kitchen.

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda