The roots of Henvalvani Community Radio, Chamba, were laid in September 2001 when a group of young rural youth came together in an attempt to find a distinct voice of their own. The Himalaya Trust, an NGO based in Dehradun conducted a radio training with the group, teaching them basics of recordings, specially focused on highlighting the needs of their local communities. For the groups members, making topical programs and airing them back in the hill villages in their vicinity was a first step towards an information revolution, and they have never looked back since.
Not having any steady platform to air back their programs from, initially Henvalvani (or the voice of Henval, a name derived from the valley where the initiative is located) used to narrowcast its programs, its members traveling from village to village encouraging people to come and listen, contribute or join in the discussions. Recently, Henvalvani has also begun to broadcast some of its programs on satellite radio World Space (Asiadev channel) and has distributed digital radio sets to some villages in an attempt to build steady listenership (this was done through collaboration with another development agency). The All India Radio, Najibabad has also aired some of their community- based programs, thus ensuring a larger reach to the group. In 2006, Henvalvani set up its own low cost studio in Chamba and today about twelve young members work out of this space.
Since its inception, Henvalvani has worked on various kinds of programs, all contextual and community centric in nature like awareness campaigns, programs promoting local talents or documenting traditional practices, environmental history and people’s movements in the valley, health capsules, stories of migration to the cities and so on. In partnership with a local NGO of the area,
ASTHA, Henvalvani has also organized community melas and youth programs, in an attempt to bring together diverse voices of the hills on one common platform.
Its members have participated in several trainings and meetings on community media in and outside of India. Committed to spreading the community media movement in the country, some of its members have also shared their own skills and knowledge with communities elsewhere by conducting trainings and workshops for other radio enthusiasts.
Henvalvani got its broadcasting license from the Department of Telecommunications under the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, in 2012. Broadcasting began in March 2012 and has rarely been disrupted. This is credited to our degree of preparation and sheer will.
Reaching out- Overview of Henvalvani’s Activities
Collaboration with the Himalaya Trust, Dehradun
Since 2001, Henvalvani has worked in close association with the Himalaya Trust, an NGO based in Dehradun. This partnership has borne many successful results- over 25 radio programs, community-centric research projects, training and workshops to name a few.
The group also worked on the Oral Testimony Project (supported by PANOS, South Asia) in tandem with the Himalaya Trust. Through the Trust, the group also got an opportunity to work on Ethnographic Action Research program of UNESCO in 2004-05 through which a few group members researched on specific community contexts (caste discrimination, alcoholism, use of traditional medicines etc.) and culled out effective radio content from their collected data.
Awareness programs to encourage people to vote in the Panchayat Elections
In February- March 2003, Henvalvani collaborated with Mountain Forum CASA to inform people how to caste their votes during the upcoming Panchayat elections. This was a pertinent campaign because many in the villages do not caste their votes, as they are intimidated or ignorant of the process. Henvalvani worked in 2 blocks- Narendra Nagara and Chamba, covering 53 villages, spreading the message and urging people to vote. The radio programs elaborated on various important facets- how to make informed choices, the color of the ballots, the procedure of voting etc. Henvalvani narrow-cast these programs by conducting meetings in the villages and through face-to-face discussion with the community members.
DRIP Awareness Program- NABARD
From January to February 2004, NABARD commissioned Henvalvani to make programs on the successful implementation of its DRIP scheme in the Tehri Garhwal district. The group made two 15 minute programs each which it narrow-cast in 15 villages to spread the message of the scheme and encourage people to seek help from NABARD.
Radio Programs for CBED, Pithoragarh, Kumaon
In August 2004, Henvalvani, along with its counterpart in Kumaon, Pradeep Community Radio, was commissioned by Canadian agency CBED to make radio programs highlighting the small scale successful enterprises set up people in rural areas. Exploring this theme, the group made 5 radio programs profiling distinct and innovative low cost enterprises started by individuals in the hills. These programs were broadcast from the All India Radio, Najibabad and later on the World Space Radio as well.
Public Service Announcement (PSA) on HIV/AIDS awarded
On the occasion of World AIDS Day in 2004, One World South Asia along with BBC World Trust Service organized a competition to select best audio/video PSAs on HIV/AIDS from across the world. Henvalvani won the third position in the competition where more than 200 participants took part from all over the world.
Campaign against Alcoholism
For Nasha Mukti Kendra Nijaat Kendra, an anti-addiction Rehabilitation Center in Dehradun, Henvalvani made two programs in October 2005. The programs spoke about the ill effects of alcohol and inspired people to get rid of this addiction and move towards a healthy life. These programs were narrow-cast in the listening clubs of Henvalvani in various villages of the area.
Awarded for best community related content
In the year 2006, Henvalvani Community Radio was awarded the Manthan A.I.F award for producing best community-centric content from all over India. The award was given by Infotech, Prasar Bharti and Digital Empowerment Foundation.
Organization of Sports Events
In partnership with the Nehru Yuva Kendras (a wing of the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, Government of India) Henvalvani organized district and block level sports competitions in the Tehri Garhwal District. These events were not just restricted to sports but workshops and meetings were conducted simultaneously to talk about youth related issues such as employment opportunities, character building and so on.
Awareness Campaign on Food and Drug Safety
Health and Family Welfare Department of Government of India, Lady Irwin College in New Delhi and Henvalvani conducted an extensive campaign in the Tehri district highlighting the benefits of food and drug safety. Henvalvani carried out baseline surveys to understand care- seeking behavior of people in rural hill villages where they worked on a sample size of 22 villages. Wall painting, street plays and radio programs were also done exploring the concerned themes and to spread the message around. The group also organized meetings and discussions with eminent people in the area.
Zariyein III- A Community Art project on the Tehri Dam
In 2008, Henvalvani collaborated with Frame Works Research and Media Collective (based in New Delhi) on community art project that tried to document the history of the old Tehri town, now swept away by the Dam. By interacting with inhabitants of the old town and some present generation people who had only heard of the town, group members culled out audiovisual testimonies (using photographs and video) encapsulating the memories attached to old Tehri. An installation piece was worked out with which the groups traveled to four different locations Tehri district, eliciting people’s responses and reactions to their work.
• In 2008, Henvalvani conducted a radio-training workshop in 6 Government Intermediate Colleges in the Chamba block of the Tehri District where 26-30 students were trained on various facets of radio programming. At the end of the training, students were given assistance to make their own radio programs that Henvalvani then played back to various village communities.
• The radio groups also helped in training of Dhadkan Community Radio, Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh on programming, content generation and editing in a workshop organized by UNICEF and the Ford Foundation , in 2008.
• In a hands-on training program organized by the Himalaya Trust in Kumaon, Henvalvani trained 20 new members of a local community radio, Pradeep in 2008. They also trained some school students and made two radio programs of half an hour each, to explicate the process better to the new learners.
• From 8th-12th December 2008, Henvalvani gave radio training to 80 students in Bhuvaneshwari Mahila Ashram, Gairsaint in Chamoli district of Garhwal under the program- Unique Media Approach For New Generation, UMANG.
• In a workshop titled, Lab to Land, Henvalvani was invited to give training on setting up low cost studio and radio programming in the Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajasthan, which had representatives of 32 renowned civil society organizations as participants. The event was organized by Digital Empowerment Foundation, New Delhi.
• Kumaon vani, a new community radio group, were also given training by
experienced members of Henvalvani in Mukteshwar, Kumaon in early 2009.
• 4 students of the Lady Irwin College, New Delhi received a 6 day radio training in Henvalvani where they made two half an hour programs each at the end of their workshop.
Training/meetings/workshops attended by Henvalvani
• Initial training on community radio conducted by the Himalaya Trust- October 2001
• Workshop on community radio held in Kathmandu, Nepal organized by UNESCO- December 2002.
• World Summit Information Society,, Tunisia, North Africa- November 2005
• Digital Story Telling workshop organized in Bangalore by UNESCO and Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
• Skill building workshop of community radio groups by UNICEF IN Orcha, Madhya Pradesh- February 2009.
• A five day training on community radio organized by Panos South Asia in Guwahati- November 2009
Members of Henvalvani
The membership of the community radio group is fluid yet ever increasing in number. Since this is a community driven initiative, people are free to join and leave as per their will, but have to substantially contribute to the radio station in a constructive way during their sojourn. Since its inception in 2001, two members have remained a constant in the group, while others have joined in to learn new skills, contribute to the content and move to build on their knowledge in various ways. The membership of the group remains young and vibrant consisting of students, young teachers, shop owners, singers and other young professionals from within the local communities who give voluntary time and energy to their community radio. Currently there are about 12 regular Henvalvani members involved with radio, the youngest being in class 12th. From time to time, other civil society organizations, media and research groups/individuals as well as academic institutions from across the world have stepped in to collaborate with Henvalvani, thus taking its vision forward.