On 1 September, 2010, a ray of hope came in the life of people of Mewat in the form of Community Radio, initiated by the NGO SMART. Community radio is an extraordinary medium to give voice to the voiceless. It provides an opportunity to communities to speak about issues concerning their lives. The community radio stations (CRS) are run by the communities.
Mewat is a backward district in the state of Haryana, faring very low on social indicators, with the literacy rate as low as 24 percent. Only 5% households have television set. In a region like this, Archna Kapoor, director of Radio Mewat, set up a radio station and appeared as the voice of people living in Mewat. It achieved its biggest success with the revival of the dying art form of "Mirasi". Mewat is well known for its Mirasis, Muslim folk singers who can narrate epics like Mahabharata. Another success indicator of community radio is the lyrics for songs on education, health hygiene and sanitation which are written by them.
However, the station had a tough job in popularizing in the district where the elders are suspicious of any new ideas and are very protective of women folks. Also, there is acute power shortage in the region. On the top of these, as it is in the interiors, it is difficult to get experienced people to work on a regular basis.
Fighting with all these difficulties, Archna Kapoor was able to set up the station and made it a successful project. When asked her about this, she said, "When Radio Mewat started working in the financial inclusion sector, barely 10 percent of the households were linked with banks. After continuous intervention, today close to 40 per cent people have opened accounts and have built an association with banks. Radio Mewat has just launched a community radio-based consumer helpline, which does not only inform the consumers about their rights but also helps them file complaints with consumer courts."
Radio Mewat, according to the annual report of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, has been very active in interacting with the local communities. Programmes which are broadcast on theradio are all need-based. Beside the regular programmes on health, education, sanitation, safe drinking water and family planning, Radio Mewat also broadcasts programmes which provide information about the various schemes of development like MNREGA, Micro Finance,
Public Distribution System (PDS), etc. It uses all the forms like jingle, songs, narratives, interviews and anchor as per the requirement of the subject to make its programmes more interesting for the listeners.
Aapki Police Aapke Saath, a special programme, won the National Award for the most innovative programme in 2013. "The programme focused on better governance by bringing the SSP to the station every week. Complaints from women and the marginalised sections were taken up by the radio station and given to the police, who in turn carried out investigations and shared the reports and actions taken on the community radio," says Archna, when asked about the programmes feature on the radio. Another special programme called Gaon Gaon Ki Baat gives an opportunity to every village to talk about their problems, achievements, unique heritage and their leader. All in all, Radio Mewat has become a roaring success and very popular among the communities.