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INDIA: New indigenous-language radio program brings ‘Message to Lepcha Community’

Radio Salesian launches new program catering to the Lepcha tribe, an indigenous tribe in Sikkim and Darjeeling region


(MissionNewswire) On Oct. 19, the West Bengal Mayalang Lepcha Development Board chairman Ren Lyangsong Tamsang launched a Lepcha language program on Radio Salesian 90.8 FM, according to an article in The Northeast Today. Radio Salesian is based out of Salesian College Sonada in Darjeeling, India, and was established in 2016.

Radio Salesian is the only college campus radio of North Bengal and northeast India. There are 64 colleges affiliated with the University of North Bengal offering 169 courses in 11 streams with some 30 faculty departments and 20 specializations. The station is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on web radio worldwide through the Listen2MyRadio app. It is the only Nepali language broadcasting community radio in India.

With coverage of over 15 kilometers, the radio station is heard across tea plantations around the college. Listeners are mostly based in Kurseong, Sonada, Balasun Valley, and the border towns of Nepal like Pashupati, Illam, Kakrabitta and Birtamore. Five local radio journalists are part of the production team for the project, which is led at Radio Salesian by program coordinator R.J. Samir.

The new program is catering to the Lepcha tribe, an indigenous tribe in Sikkim and Darjeeling region. According to the article, Tamsang praised the initiative taken by Radio Salesian to save the vanishing Lepcha language and culture. He said in the article, “Catholic missionary effort is to save. It is much greater than destroying.”

Tamsang also thanked Radio Salesian. “In working for Lepcha language and community, you are following instructions of Pope Francis who encourages people to promote ancient and indigenous cultures.”

The “Message to Lepcha Community” radio program features Lepcha personalities, folktales, and instruction on language and culture in the Lepcha language. The program is prepared by Lepcha radio journalists Liesa Lepcha, Suk Tshering Lepcha and Jilbert Lepcha who completed one month of intense training with Radio Salesian. The article noted that the one hour weekly program is broadcast on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. with a repeat on Monday at 3:00 p.m. as of Oct. 24.

Radio Salesian has also been selected by India’s Community Radio Association as a partner to raise awareness about COVID-19 through a national project. The project is sponsored by UNICEF, which has been reaching out to public service broadcasters globally through community radio stations.

India has the world’s fourth largest economy but more than 22 percent of the country lives in poverty. About 31 percent of the world’s multidimensionally poor children live in India, according to a report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A multidimensionally poor child is one who lacks at least one-third of 10 indicators, grouped into three dimensions of poverty: health, education and standard of living.

Salesian missionaries living and working in India place special emphasis on rescuing and rehabilitating children engaged in child labor. There are Salesian-run programs throughout the country that have helped hundreds of thousands of vulnerable youth through the years, and this work continues today.



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