[cr-india] Community Radio could have helped thousands in Uttarakhand

Zahir Koradia zahir.koradia at gmail.com
Sat Jun 22 06:30:47 CDT 2013

Hi All,
We at Gram Vaani are planning to set up free Mobile Vaani instances for
each of the three CR stations in the flood affected region.

For the benefit of those who dont know what Mobile Vaani is, it is
essentially a socail media platform that runs over phone calls.
- People can call in and record messages. This facility can be used by
people to call in and let others know of situation in their localities. CR
stations can broadcast this information to their listeners.
- People can call in and listen to the recorded messages and other audio
"uploaded" by the CR station. This facility can be used to provide
information to others at a time of convenience to the callers.

The key advantage here is that Mobile Vaani is not limited by broadcast
range as it works one phone calls. So potentially the whole of the flood
affected area could use the service and not just people around the
stations. More details about Mobile Vaani is present on our website (
www.gramvaani.org) and there is a video also available at

While we are in the process of setting up the technology pieces and
coordinating with the CR stations, I am writing here to get people on this
forum to provide suggestions on how such a platform could be used by the
stations. Volunteers could also handhold stations through the ideas
discussed on the list.

Hopefully, some affirmative action will put our energies, currently going
towards frustration, to better use.


On Sat, Jun 22, 2013 at 8:09 AM, Osama Manzar Y <osama_manzar at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Sajan
> You are incredible.
> Sent from Samsung Mobile
> -------- Original message --------
> From: sajan venniyoor <venniyoor at gmail.com>
> Date: 22/06/2013 02:55 (GMT+05:30)
> To: crindia <cr-india at sarai.net>
> Subject: Re: [cr-india] Community Radio could have helped thousands in
> Uttarakhand
> On 22 June 2013 00:16, Ashish Sen <sen_ashish at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> Remember Navin Chawla’s (then I and B  Secy) comment in the immediate
>> aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that community radio was an important
>> component in disaster preparedness?
> During the 2004 tsunami, Anna FM was the only CR station in India. About
> the I&B Secretary's conviction that CR was an important component of
> disaster preparedness, Dr Sreedher (then Channel Manager, Anna FM) wrote,
> "He immediately requested our university to set up a similar community
> radio station in the Nicobar Islands, which were also badly hit by the
> tsunami and to train local people there to run the radio."
> "On his suggestion, we are going to install seven radio transmitters in
> the Nicobar Islands. This community radio station will also have a
> satellite-triggered disaster warning system. The government of India is
> keen on having the system in place there."
> This was in 2005. Such is the government of India's keenness to have a
> radio based disaster warning system in the Nicobar Islands that the network
> of CR stations in the archipelago has now grown to approximately zero.
> During the Kosi floods of 2008, we were told that we may have some
> sinister design behind setting up emergency radio stations ("You may
> broadcast relief messages on the surface, but how do we know what you will
> broadcast below that?", we were asked by a heavyweight in the Water
> Resources Ministry, whose waist size was about three times his IQ). After
> the Emergency Radio proposal file was duly circulated to half a dozen
> ministries, we informed by the I&B Ministry -- six months later -- that
> since the floods had subsided, could we wait for the next one?
> So, to answer your question, Ram, on whether it would be worth applying
> for emergency radio licenses in Uttarakhand, I am tempted to roll on the
> floor laughing hysterically, but since we can all see the tragedy unfolding
> in the hills, yes, it's probably worth applying applying.
> But let me add that even half a dozen emergency radio stations in the
> disaster zone would hardly reach all the affected people of Garhwal. As
> Anand Sharma, head of the Meteorological Center, Dehradun says, nothing
> less than "a large number of community radio stations" can avert such a
> disaster in future, or cover this sparsely populated area.
> At present, there are just five 'community radio stations' in Uttarakhand,
> of which three are licensed to educational institutions, including an
> Agricultural University. To quote Dr. Sreedher again, "Anna FM is run
> exclusively by university students and the Sunday morning transmission is a
> recorded broadcast. As a result we were unable to respond immediately when
> the tsunami struck. Moreover, by law we were not allowed, as a community
> radio station to broadcast news and current affairs programmes."
> The good news is that there are 17 Letters of Intent holders from
> Uttarakhand. The other news is that 12 of them are Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
> With the exception of *Mandakini ki Awaz,* the rest are Dehradun-based
> universities and educational societies.
> Mr Sharma of the Uttarakhand Met Dept says, "A strong network of community
> FM radios would have played a radical role in alerting the locals as well
> as the tourists/pilgrims." Do you see Krishi Vigyan Kendras, manned by
> govt servants, playing a radical role in alerting the public, unless the
> disaster strikes between 10am and 5pm on working days with sufficient
> advance notice?
> It is instructive that Rudraprayag had a District Collector named Neeraj
> Khairwal four days ago. Two days ago, the Collector was Vijay Kumar
> Daundiyal, who promptly suffered a 'mild heart attack' and was evacuated to
> the state capital where "only people close to him" are allowed to visit
> him. If yet another Collector has been sent to Rudraprayag, it's a closely
> guarded secret, as the Collectorate lies empty This confirms my belief that
> disaster alerts are usually sent to the Collectorate so that the Collector
> can collect his family and belongings and skip like the high hills.
> with regards,
> Sajan
> On 22 June 2013 00:16, Ashish Sen <sen_ashish at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> What needs to be done, for a start, is to remind the  I and B ministry to
>> urgently wake up and address  the relevance of  Community Radio in
>> disturbed and vulnerable areas – an issue which it brought up at least two
>> CR Sammellans ago …but seems to have been consigned to the backburner since
>> then.
>> Otherwise the déjà vu like scenario is likely to hit us again and again
>> with even more disastrous consequences. Remember Navin Chawla’s (then I and
>> B  Secy) comment in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that
>> community radio was an important component in disaster preparedness?
>> Unfortunately, there was little- if any -  action on the ground. About
>> three years later, post the Bihar  floods and  the Kosi running amuck,
>> pleas and efforts to set up  emergency  radio from community media
>> advocates came to nought.
>> Anand Sharma’s comments resonate with several others like  the NDMA who
>> keep plugging  the critical importance of community preparedness and
>> community response in effectively reckoning with the challenge. The proof
>> of the pudding, however, lies in the eating. Can we get the I and B
>> ministry to act  - and act quickly?
>> Best
>> Ashish
>> Subject:  [cr-india] Community Radio could have helped thousands
>> in Uttarakhand
>> Sent: Fri, Jun 21, 2013 10:35:29 AM
>> Timely  weather alerts could have saved thousands
>>  Neha Pant, Hindustan Times  Dehradun, June 21, 2013
>>  Presence of an effective communication dissemination
>>  system would have lessened the magnitude of the disaster
>>  caused in Uttarakhand.
>>  The Meteorological Centre, Dehradun had alerted various
>>  departments of the state government about the possibility of
>>  heavy rains and landslides in the state, 48 hours prior to
>>  the intervening night of June 16 and 17 that brought
>>  widespread damage. However, it now emerges the alert failed
>>  to percolate down to the masses at large, worsening the
>>  magnitude of the damage, especially in the Char Dham Yatra
>>  route.
>>  "The intensity of the devastation could have been
>>  much lesser had there been an effective communication system
>>  in place to disseminate our weather alert to the masses. A
>>  strong network of community FM radios would have played a
>>  radical role in alerting the locals as well as the
>>  tourists/pilgrims," Anand Sharma, head of
>>  meteorological center, Dehradun, told Hindustan Times on
>>  Thursday.
>>  Uttarakhand faced the worst hit of rains from the night of
>>  June 16 and major damages were caused on June 17 in the
>>  hills. The Met Center had issued alerts to various
>>  governmental departments two days in advance. Sharma said
>>  that establishing an all-weather communication system was
>>  the need of the hour. Currently, only three community radios
>>  are reportedly functional in Uttarakhand.
>>  "Setting up of a large number of community FM radios
>>  can avert such a disaster in future. Also, distribution of
>>  low-cost and low-maintenance technologies like tone alert
>>  hand-winding radios especially in the rural areas, will
>>  ensure that weather alerts reach to the public in time,
>>  averting such disasters," he concluded.
> Join the Community Radio Forum. For membership details, please go to
> www.crforum.in
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