A discussion on the technical alternatives to internet shutdowns

Understanding how to leverage alternative communication networks

Ramakrishnan Nagarajan

Leveraging Community Radio as an alternative during internet shutdowns

Submitted Jan 13, 2020

Community Radio (CR) stations are low-cost small-area radio stations run by and for local communities. Globally are a way for communities to take back control over their media consumption and content generation. Globally, CR plays an important role in preserving local cultures and languages - and also in establishing effective community control over their own information requirements and media use. This is in no small measure because radio, for more than a century, has been the most cost effective and efficient medium for both media producers and listeners.
There are more than 275 CR stations across India today, with more than 500 in the pipeline. And though much has been made of the death of radio in the era of streaming services like Spotify and Prime Audio, this number acquires a new significance in light of India’s position as the world leader in internet shutdowns. CR is already seen as an alternate space, for participatory, community-first agendas and opinions. Could CR stations provide a mechanism for communication when internet-based messsaging and social media fail? Is it a credible alternative? What would be the challenges involved in making it an effective mechanism to bypass the communication failure than happens during an internet shutdown?
This presentation examines the current status of CR in India; and the potential pros and cons of viewing CR as an alternative to internet-based media in India.


  1. What is CR? (Concept, philosophy, global movement)
  2. CR, free speech and rights
  3. Current status of CR in India
  4. Challenges of CR as a medium
  5. Can CR be an alternate method of communication during internet shutdown: Arguments for and against
  6. Q & A (optional)


Projector for powerpoint

Speaker bio

Mr.Ramakrishnan is a social and behaviour change communication specialist, with extensive experience in using media for community empowerment. A filmmaker/cinematographer, radio producer and technology enthusiast, he has extensive experience in producing radio programmes and content, with several long-form radio programmes for All India Radio to his credit. He has also been deeply involved in advocacy for the Indian community radio sector: He was an office bearer of the Community Radio Forum, the first Indian association of CR activists and groups, between 2010 and 2016; and was a member of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s CR screening committee over the same period. Over the last 15 years, he has taught radio and film production to mass communication students at Delhi University and the School of Convergence; and has trained more than a hundred CR stations across India, South and South East Asia in low cost radio technology and production. He has also been instrumental in setting up several community radio stations, notably four stations supported by UNICEF. Mr.Ramakrishnan has several research papers, articles and books to his credit, including CR: A User’s Guide to the Technology (UNESCO, 2008); and CR & Migration (with Venu Arora, UNESCO, 2016). He is the Founder/Director of Ideosync Media Combine, an internationally reknowned SBCC organization based in the NCR of Delhi. He currently also teaches radio at Jindal Global University.


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