Several community-oriented democratic media that civil society

Severalcommunication studies have proved the contribution of community based media in communitydevelopment. Community radio is one of the best ways to reach excluded ormarginalized communities in targeted, useful ways, and in giving them a ‘voice’that matters most in development communication (Dagron, 2001). Community radiois one of the genres of community-oriented democratic media that civil societyorganizations are struggling to develop for facilitating more people centereddevelopment and as a means for empowerment at the grassroots (Pavarala & Malik,2007). Community radio provides a mechanism for enabling individuals, groups,and communities to tell their own stories, to share experiences and, in amedia-rich world, to become creators and contributors of media.

A communityradio station is that which is operated in the community, for the community,about the community and by the community (Tabing, 2002).  The power of community radio lies in its ability to be a voice foreveryone, including the marginalized and impoverished, offering a channel tospeak for those who don’t have anywhere else where they will be heard (Jallov2012, p. 20). In grassroots media, information and messages aregenerally produced by the same people whose concerns they represent throughdirect engagement and participation.

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In the context of community radio the terms participation and empowerment arediscussed simultaneously and can be understood in the organizational context. Scholarsbelieve that notion of empowerment emphasizes local ownership and participationwhich is crucial for community radio to serve as a development tool and tofulfill its purpose of empowering individuals. Jallov (2012) definesempowerment as processes and actionwhich generate the self-confidence, power and insight needed for persons andcommunities to take control of their own lives (p. 23).  An empowered community is the key indicator ofdeveloped society. Empowerment of individuals and communities lead to adeveloped nation. Empowerment is the process of developing and buildingcapacities of individuals, communities to make them part of the main streamsociety.

Empowerment is interpreted as a process, which is made of slight andsubtle changes and involves four different dimensions: consciousness and self?confidence;access to information, networks of people, economic resources and skills;improvement of power position within households and community; engagement forthe empowerment of others (Mayoux, 2005; Rowlands, 1997). Gaining power meansacquiring ability and opportunity to participate and contribute in the socialdevelopment process creatively and meaningfully. Marginality affects millionsof people throughout the world. People who are marginalized have relativelylittle control over their lives, and the resources available to them. The participatorycommunication approach of community radio can lead to the process ofempowerment through radio production skill development.

Capacity buildingprogrammes like sensitization workshops, community radio production andpresentation skill training workshops encourage the volunteers to participatein programme production. Regular participation and practice in community radiocan make the participation longer, which is imperative for the survival of acommunity radio station. Longer participation and continuous engagement givesconfidence of self expression and presentation. Development of technical skillsis also an important aspect of the study which makes the volunteers employablein the community media sector.  This is to investigate thathow these skills can improve the livelihood of volunteers.

Linkage between participatory communication processand skill development process of community a radio can be understood throughthe following figure (See Fig. 1.1). The figure shows that raisingawareness through dissemination of information and imparting knowledge is a oneway communication between radio station and the community. In such communicationphysical participation of participants is not required. On the other hand thecommunity participation reveals a two way communication which requires physicalparticipation.

The physical participation of participants in community radiostation lead to the development of production & presentation skills andultimately it lead to the empowerment.                             Community     Community Radio Station                                                           CommunityParticipation                                                                                                Skill Development   Communication /Presentation skills   Community Empowerment                                                    Production/ Technical skills            Fig.1.1Linkage between participatory communication and skill development process of aCR Communityempowerment through community radio has been explained in terms of an excellentmedium of communication at grass root level but is community radio limited to apowerful medium of communication? Is it playing an important role in empoweringthe village volunteers through skill development process? Does it provideemployment opportunities to the participants representing underprivileged andmarginalized groups of community? How the participatory communication processesmake the volunteers employable? These questions are the driving force behindthe study which will explore how and at what extent the community radioinitiatives in India are empowering the marginalized communities through  self expression and production skilldevelopment process.

  

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