Thereason for this research lies in the fact that expansion of alternative mediachannels in India has triggered the new dimension of mass media channelsespecially in terms of its role in empowerment at grassroots level.
The aim ofthis research is to investigate how community radio initiatives in India hasemerged as a powerful participatory medium of communication for the empowermentof underprivileged and marginalized communities in terms of skill development. AResponsible citizen is central aspect of democracy. Ashish Sen (MediaDevelopment, Bangalore) underlines the pertinent and the pro-active role playedby the media in India.
He says, “In terms of reach and access, India’sprint and broadcast media is strong: Â Approximately 60% of urban Indiansand 25% of rural Indians read print media on a regular basis, and 96% of thecountry is reached by radio”. (Source: https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2011/02/community-radio-for-rural-development) Privatizationand commercialization of mass communicationchannels has deteriorated the content in terms of kind and the nature of issueshighlighted. The channels influenced by privileged class deliver partial anddistorted information to the people. The malpractices of paid news andpropagating propaganda have questioned the credibility of media. Communitybased media which can play a neutral and growth-centric role is the need ofhour. In the era of market-driven industry and commercialization the presenceof community media is very significant.
Community media provide platform to those who do not haveany other channels to express their concerns, without money making motive.Community media has evolved from dissatisfaction with mainstream media and whichoffer an alternative media channel for the community. An essential component of communitymedia is community radio. Community radio derives its genesis from thefundamental principles of democracy based on equal and active participation incivic affairs. A low level of literacy rate and even lower awareness towards democraticsociety in rural areas has triggered the need of community radio. Consequently the community radio has become an importantmedium for development and social change, giving communities a platform forcommunicating about local issues, news and challenges that directly affecttheir daily lives.
It has also demonstrated many positive attributes thatbenefit in preserving local culture, giving the community a voice and capacityto express their identity, and empowering the community with direct positiveeffects on democracy (Mtimde, 2000; Myers, 2011; Odine, 2013). Rennie (2006) emphasizes therole and value of community media as citizens’ ability for self-representationand self expression. It’s the relationship between participation, skill developmentand empowerment that will work as a theoretical framework to analyze howparticipation contributes the process of skill development and ultimately itempowers communities.