New Delhi [India], February 12 (ANI): The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is organising a regional Community Radio Sammelan (South) on February 13 and 14 at Anna University, Chennai to celebrate 20 years of community radio in India.

All 117 community radio stations of southern states and Union Territories will be participating in the event.

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The Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, is also expected to announce some policy changes for the sector to provide impetus to the community radio sector during the Regional Community Radio Sammelan.

It is pertinent to note that the journey of community radio in India started in 2002, when the Government of India approved a policy for the grant of licences for setting up of community radio stations to well-established educational institutions, including IITs and IIMs.

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Considering that community radio represents voice of the community, the Government decided to broad base the policy by bringing 'Non-profit' organisations like civil society and voluntary organisations etc. under its ambit in order to allow greater participation by the civil society on issues relating to development & social change.

As a result, the first community radio station was inaugurated by Bharat Ratna L.K Advani on February 1, 2004. The journey was started at a slow pace and later impetus was given when the other community-based organisations were also allowed to setup the community radio stations.

It is notable that in recent years, the government has taken several proactive steps to enable ease of doing in the sector by making a complete online process for submission of applications.

This has resulted in an increase in the number of community radio stations to 481, out of which 155 were added in the last two years. In the last nine years, the sector has grown substantially, and the number of community radio stations has increased from 140 in 2014 to 481 in 2023.

The Regional Sammelan is being inaugurated on February 13, which marks "World Radio Day".

Community radio is an important third tier in radio broadcasting, distinct from public service radio broadcasting and commercial radio. Community radio stations (CRSs) are low-power radio stations that are meant to be set up and operated by local communities.

Community Radio provides a platform to air local voices among the local community on issues concerning Health, Nutrition, Education, Agriculture etc. Moreover, the Community Radio is a powerful medium of the marginalised sections of society to voice their concerns. Furthermore, since the broadcast is in local languages and dialects, people are able to relate to it instantly.

Community radio also has the potential to strengthen people's participation in development programmes through its holistic approach. In a country like India, where every state has its own language and distinctive cultural identity, CRSs are also a repository of local folk music and cultural heritage.

Many CRSs record and preserve local songs for posterity and give local artists a platform to showcase their talent to the community. The unique position of CRS as an instrument of positive social change makes it an ideal tool for community empowerment. (ANI)

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