The Republic of India was established on August 17, 1947. Dubbed as the world’s largest democracy, India has a population of approximately 1.3 billion people over an area of 3,287,597 square kilometres. Comprising 29 states and seven union territories, India accounts for a large section of the South Asian region and is bordered by countries Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, and by the water bodies Arabian Sea, to the West, and Bay of Bengal, to the East. Approximately 91% of the country comprise land (mountainous regions, desserts, coast-lands) while 9% comprise water bodies. The most popular languages include English, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, and Hindi.
The country’s media sector comprises state-run, privately owned, and community-based initiatives.
On February 05, 1995, the Supreme Court made a judgement stating that “airwaves constitute public property and must be utilized for advancing public good” in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting vs. Cricket Association of Bengal case. Following this, in September 1996, various stakeholders gathered in Bangalore to address how community radio is relevant to India. This saw the outcome of the ‘Bangalore Declaration’ which formed the basis for the advocacy of community radio in India. In 2002, the government invited educational institutions to set up their own CR stations and Anna University launched its’ Campus Community Radio station, Anna FM, in February 2004.
By October 15, 2008, the first rural community radio station, Sangham Radio which was established by the Deccan Development Society, began broadcasting. As at 2017, reports indicate approximately 179 active community radio stations in India.
There are hundreds of community newspapers initiatives in India; however, there isn’t much data available due to them being printed in local dialects and not having much online platforms. In addition, there are numerous participatory video projects such as Video Volunteers and UNICEF’s Children as Media Producers initiative.
Key organisations within India that support community media initiatives include UNESCO Chair on Community Media, CEMCA, IdeoSync Media Combine, Maraa, Community Radio Association, and Community Radio Forum.