Som Nath Aryal
This profile was prepared when Som Nath Aryal was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Som Nath is demonstrating how independent community radio stations can work as dynamic tools for social change. He has given the true meaning to the concept of community radio, with an independent of commercial or political interests and is managed and funded by communities. He mobilizes all sectors of the society—youth, womens’ groups, community forest users, and other professionals, to inform, engage, and connect people as active, change making citizens through community radio. They are engaged in all aspects of program production and consumption. Significantly, Som Nath has encouraged isolated, uneducated, and unemployed rural youth (the same cohort that has often been enticed into violent agitation) to form Radio Sangi Samuha (meaning, Friends of the Radio). They are not mere listeners’ clubs, but are the producers and contributors of radio programs that mobilize communities to make the radio sustainable and to improve village life. Friends of the Radio also plays an important role as watchdog groups against corruption and injustice. Community Radio Madan Pokhara, the community radio station Som Nath first established is developing a broad citizen base of support through villager participation in fundraising, manual labor, program production, decision-making, advertising, and knowledge dissemination, for the station. He has initiated unique fundraising activities to elicit support from the community forests-users groups, mother’s groups, and other community organizations, including the District Development Corporation and Village Development Corporation so the whole community feels a sense of ownership. Som Nath’s goal is to break down barriers of caste and gender, and to build a just, democratic society in which all participate. Using the radio station as a vehicle, he captured an important moment following the passage of a new radio law in 1998—allowing any one to establish a station with a 10 Watt transmitter. His work spans from villages to the highest policy levels.