This profile was prepared when Vinaya Kasajoo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Vinaya sees that in Nepal, the lack of communications tools and infrastructure means that the rural majority cannot share ideas and information about issues important to their lives. As a result, only a small group of people shares in the vision and responsibilities of democracy. To engage rural people in current topics and, by doing so, open an ignored market segment, Vinaya has dedicated himself to strengthening community media. He began his work by publishing Deurali, the first weekly rural newspaper in South Asia, for which he taught villagers to be news gatherers. Now, to reach the illiterate majority, he has introduced a network of transportable, low-cost community radios that neighboring villages share. Supported through advertisements and the contributions of village councils, the radio stations he has established broadcast local news and programs on topics ranging from family planning to the market prices for goods. As a result of Vinaya's initiatives, villagers gain control of their outlets of information and use them to influence policy and improve their economic and social well-being.