Published: 27th April 2017
These University of Hyderabad students are using a community radio station to strip India's biggest social concerns threadbare
If you ever check out Bol Hyderabad 90.4 FM and find that you're in the middle of a serious debate about defecation, don't fret. You're in the capable hands of U0H's creative best
At a time when radio stations exist primarily to keep you awake and unencumbered when you're driving to work, a few University of Hyderabad (UoH) students have begun storming the radiowaves with hard-hitting social issues — ranging from open defecation to Dalit women empowerment.
Practically the only community radio station for social change in Hyderabad, Bol Hyderabad 90.4 FM, is being run by the students from the Department of Communication at the University of Hyderabad. This first-of0its-kind initiative began as part of their second-semester project. They've chosen to do short radio shows on topics that plague society at the basal level to create a 13-part series titled ‘Stories of Change’
Let's talk about change now
“Each of these episodes is about 25 to 30 minutes long and the topics are diverse — from open defecation on the sidelines of the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan to highlighting the struggles of the urban poor and stories of Dalit women empowerment — we have covered quite a bit,” said Monika Tiwari, a UoH student from Uttar Pradesh, who is part of the project. Her team, which included Swati Pant from Nainital, did a radio show about a slightly scary side of open defecation, where women are forced to step out only before sunrise or after sunset because of an inherent fear that they might be raped or even killed.
Each of these episodes is about 25 to 30 minutes long and the topics are diverse — from open defecation on the sidelines of the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan to highlighting the struggles of the urban poor and stories of Dalit women empowerment — we have covered quite a bit
Monika Tiwari, UoH student
All the students had the liberty of choosing topics that appealed to them. Using different styles of presentation, including role play, interviews, narration and an expert's view, the episodes are packed with information and are quite interesting.
Home is where the radio show resounds
While for some students, like K Vaishali, it was only ‘intellectual curiosity’ to find out if movements initiated by women for social change are limited to urban, elitist spaces, for others like Durga Prasad, personal experiences triggered their choice of topics. “I consider myself among the urban poor — an engineering graduate who migrated to Hyderabad to look for something better. The way the government looks at development or empowering the poor in urban spaces does not help solve the problem. It does not look at what they are capable of but provides what they think is necessary. We tried to explore that aspect,” explained Prasad, another student.
Different folks, different strokes
Like Prasad, Meenakshy S, from Cochin in Kerala, who is in the process of discovering her sexual orientation, explained that it was quite natural that LGBTQ Pride Marches that have been popping up across the country became a subject of interest to her. “We also explored the Hyderabad Pride and how it the transgender community is far more active here compared to other states,” she said, explaining her choice of subject for her radio show. Narratives of empowered Dalit Women, child sexual abuse that is rampant and on the rise in the country and eradication of hunger were some of the other topics.