Hyderabad: There was a time when General Narsamma spent all her time talking on the radio, hearing and transmitting frequencies. Her days went by hosting interviews and advising citizens of Zaheerabad on how to grow better crops on the 12-year-old Sangam radio.

However, all that has vanished in the last three months.

The community radio that she operated along with her daughter Chinna Narsamma as part of the Deccan Development Society (DDS), has remained shut ever since the COVID-induced lockdown. And while she wished to resume the operation in the mundane days of March, a technical glitch upset her plans.

"The radio transmitter burnt out just before the lockdown and we were unable to send it across for repairs," said General Narsamma. She further added that these last few months without radio felt empty to her.

The team at DDS tried their best to send transmitter to Bangalore for repairs, but they could not due to the lockdown.

"I used to speak to so many people and conduct their interviews. But I was not able to do anything in these months," she said.

General and her daughter are known in the district for taking their small recorder and a mic to farmers in the area and record their interviews. "We loved talking to them about their conditions, their income, and their advice. It made us happy," she said.

While the transmitter was fixed last week, General and her daughter have not been able to resume the broadcast.

Attempts at awareness

General said she would have loved to create awareness on the pandemic through community radio programmes, but she didn't have much choice. However, both the women participated in several relief programmes organized by DDS.

"We created awareness among people. We tried to inform them how to wear a mask, what medicines need to keep handy, what to eat, how to behave in public et al. We made sure to inform the community around us," she said.

New Project 2020 08 04t121838.803

Members of the Deccan Development Society were involved

in relief activities during the pandemic-imposed lockdown

Members of the DDS also provided dry ration and other basic necessities to agricultural laborers, migrant workers, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.

"We even told the women that if they don't have a mask, they can wrap the end of their saree to their faces to prevent the spread of infection," General said. Chinna Narsamma made awareness videos on COVID-19, along with other women.

However, all that felt bleak to the General. She says that the absence of the radio, and the fact that no-one was willing to come and repair it during the lockdown, made her feel very sad.

"We have yet to plan the resumption of the broadcast. It will take time. In the meanwhile, we are conducting relief and awareness activities for the people in the district," Joint Director at DDS, A Giridhar told Newsmeter.

Priyali Dhingra

Priyali Dhingra is a post graduate in Communication Studies from Hyderabad Central University. She has previously worked as a photojournalist, editorial, and graphic design intern in The Indian Express, Newslaundry, and NDTV. Reigning from Delhi, she has an avid interest in photojournalism, and all things visual. She has also represented India as a delegate in the JENESYS 2019 Student Exchange Program with the Government of Japan. Having pursued her graduation in history from Delhi University, she was also a part of her college's theatre society. Her primary interests include: photography, poetry & politics.

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