Prof. Vinod Pavarala, Senior Professor of Department of Communication, S N School of Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad (UoH) and UNESCO Chair on Community Media delivered the Foundation Day Lecture at the KK Handiqui State Open University (KKSOU), Guwahati, Assam on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of its community radio station, Jnan Taranga, which is the first community radio station in northeast India.
Speaking on “Community Radio in the times of Covid-19: Experiences from the Global South,” Prof. Pavarala emphasized the key role played by community radios during the Covid-19 pandemic in sharing information with communities that are located at the far end of the development road, without access to adequate healthcare facilities and the Internet. He pointed out that Covid-19 claimed millions of lives and livelihoods in its wake, with countries in the Global South disproportionately affected. In these countries, the existing social and economic inequalities further exacerbated uneven information flows.
Prof. Pavarala highlighted the fact that despite a strong digital push globally, and increasingly in the developing world, community radio stations, mostly operating in the analogue mode, demonstrated their continued relevance to the poor and marginalized sections of the populations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Their hyper-local focus, use of local and indigenous languages and dialects, locally relevant content, and participatory production processes were among the characteristics of community radio that made it a viable and necessary medium during the worldwide public health crisis. The community radio stations also worked hard to dispel many of the myths about the disease that were being propagated in the social media and did so in a number of local languages and dialects.
On the occasion, Prof. Pavarala was felicitated for his contributions to community radio research and practice by the Vice-Chancellor of KKSOU, Prof. Rajendra Prasad Das. Mr. P.J. Baruah, Executive Editor of The Assam Tribune, was the chief guest on the occasion.