The UNESCO Chair on Community Media at the Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad has been awarded a competitive grant by the prestigious International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) of UNESCO Paris for strengthening capacities of community radios to promote and revitalize indigenous languages. This is the fourth time that the Chair has received an IPDC grant for its work, which previously included support for an inter-regional initiative on sustainability of community radio in East Africa and, more recently, to produce a manual for strengthening gender-sensitive practices and programming in community radios.

Nityananda Janvani in Purulia West Bengal

The current project for which a funding of US $30,000 has been granted involves studying global experiences of using community radio in indigenous languages as well as documenting field-level best practices of community radio stations in India that work in indigenous/tribal languages such as Santhali, Desiya, and Paniya. Many of these languages are under threat of extinction and community radio is seen as a valuable channel for not only keeping them alive and vibrant, but also for promoting indigenous knowledge systems. The team consisting of Profs Vinod Pavarala, Kanchan K. Malik, and Vasuki Belavadi will be engaged in this year-long project.

Radio Hirakhand in Sambhalpur Odisha

Reacting to the announcement of the award, Prof. Vinod Pavarala, Senior Professor of Communication at University of Hyderabad and the Chairholder, said, “This is one of the most significant projects that we have taken up at the UNESCO Chair since its inception in 2011. Community radio, as the voice of the poor and disenfranchised, could potentially amplify the concerns of indigenous communities in their own languages.” The UNESCO Chair on Community Media, one of its kind globally, was recently renewed by the UNESCO headquarters for a fourth term of four years, until 2027.