Friday, June 14, 2024

COVID-19: Community radio in Mewat fights stigma

Fifteen months into the Pandemic, Radio Mewat, community radio in Haryana’s Mewat district, vows to lift vaccination hesitancy. Photo: special arrangement

After the deadly surge of coronavirus infections ripped India in April and May, the country is in a race against time to get a maximum number of people vaccinated before the third wave. But a significant amount of the population is still reluctant to get the shots.

Fifteen months into the pandemic, Radio Mewat, community radio in Haryana’s Mewat district, vows to lift vaccination hesitancy.

Launched in 2010, the radio station has successfully worked as a bridge to fill the gap between the people and news during an uncertain time. Social media and news organisations have lauded the radio station’s effort in tackling the pandemic and educating people.

Mewat is listed as the most backward district in India, according to the NITI Aayog report. Only 27 per cent of the household has a television, leaving the majority to rely on radio as a reliable news source.

Out of 431 villages, the community radio is successfully reaching out to more than 170 villages.

“Without wasting much time, we decided to work on this and help the community by providing them with the basic guidelines to COVID-19,” Nikita, senior programmer at Radio Mewat told Maktoob. “We started inviting religious leaders, doctors and administrative people on our live shows to talk break the myths and clear the misinformation going around for both COVID-19.”

Before the pandemic, the radio station hosted social uplifting programmes on agriculture, farming, health issues, schooling, parenting, pregnancies, education and domestic violence.

“We have done several shows on domestic violence and organised meaningful workshops for uneducated women from the society to help them shape their futures and stand on their own,” she adds.

In the past 15 months, their initiative has attracted more than 750 women to their mask-making exercises. The group claims that the women have successfully made 60000 masks and have already disturbed around 55000 masks free of cost to the people of Mewat.

Women empowerment is a key objective for the radio station.

The radio works 8 am to 10 pm every day and has not taken a single day off since the pandemic started. Radio Mewat is one of the 310 community radios operating in India. 

“We try to keep our listeners completely informed about not only the pandemic and COVID-19 updates but also with other news like health, politics, government schemes and other social issues,” Archana Kapoor, the founder of Radio Mewat told Maktoob

“To help the community, we try to Bridge the gap between the community and the administration. We are very particular with gender-biased issues, women have also been our first priority. We try our best to help them fight the domestic violence issues and speak about it openly.”

Kapoor urged government to give advertisments and public notice through community radio’s to save many from shutting down.

Erina Bint-E-Javaid Akhter
Erina Bint-E-Javaid Akhter
Erina is a postgraduate student of journalism and an independent journalist based in Delhi. She hails from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh.

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