BARAMATI 2: Rain gods in charge…


“All flights are delayed by two hours,” the director of the VIIT
announced to volunteers, and the mood sunk. Even the Baramati skies
appear overcast. Earlier, while I sat through a sandlewood-paste
flavoured beard-trim (Rs 15) at the local roadside makeshift
haircutting saloon, the TV spoke of rainy weather warnings.

That means a delay in getting started.

But the hosts here are hospitable to a fault. I don’t know what it is,
but have often encountered the hospitality of our neighbouring states,
though often, like “good neighbours” huge Maharashtra and tiny Goa
also have our tiffs over political and other issues.

A few of the early arrivals, mainly the organisers from YES _/ Bank
and the college, and ICRISAT’s international faculty Dr SP Wani,
joined in for an interesting, vegetarian Maharashtrian meal. Their
food is interesting, and given the diversity of India, food changes
every few hundred kilometres that you travel. Like it. In any case, am
(impure) veg myself.

After that, a brief chat saw one land up at the CC — or the community
centre. On the top of the building, a newish board announces this
year-old station “Vasundhara Vahini, 90.4 FM”. Vasundhara is one of
the names of the earth. There are many names in South Asia with an
earthy feel to them: “Achala, Avani, Bhoopesh, Bhupendra, Bhupati,
Bhoodevi, Bhuvana, Bhuvaneswari, Dharani, Dharavi, Ela, Ela Devi,
Ibrahim, Ila, Ila Devi, Mahipal, Pruthvi, Pruthviraj, Urvi.”

After all, as the announcer who worked at Satara, a neighbouring
state-run All India Radio station as a casual announcer said, it was
because of the earth that man sustains himself. And this point is felt
strongly in this part of agrarian India.

VIIT director Dr Amol Goje thinks it would help to hand over the radio
to the students to run. Others rued the fact that the number of
restrictions placed by the Indian government on what it calls
“community radio” (actually a form of ‘campus radio’) make it tough to
sustain.

One can broadcast just four minutes of advertising in a day, or that’s
what one was told! There are restrictions on rebroadcasts of
entertainment-oriented music, others complained. But the announcer at
the station, who demoed how he read out the announcements (broadcast
is four hours in the morning, with a repeat session in the evenings)
termed this the first agriculture-oriented radio station in Asia.

It’s located in three rooms, and is run with the minimal staff to keep
it viable. Waiting to tune in to this network, when I have the time
and an FM radio on hand, at the right moment.

Waiting for the action to start. –FN in Baramati 7:49 pm March 9, 2006.

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