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|April 9, 1999
Tribal Jhabua's satellite project to be expandedC N R Vijay Kumar
For the last two years, the Indian Space Research Organisation has been running a satellite broadcast and interactive communications network in Jhabua.
ISRO has beamed over 1,200 programmes to Jhabua already. ISRO itself and private entities have produced these programmes.
Started on November 1, 1996, the Jhabua Development Communications Project now has 150 direct reception systems and 12 talkback terminals. Evening transmissions are addressed to the rural audience.
Very soon, an additional 462 sites are be covered in Jhabua alone in view of the high success of the programme which has enabled natives of the backward district gain significantly in knowledge and information.
In addition, 200 direct reception systems would be installed in the adjacent districts of Dhar and Barwani. The network is also likely to be upgraded to digital broadcast technology.
The Department of Space has proposed to hand over the operation of the project to the Madhya Pradesh government.
Detailed studies reveal that over 75 per cent of the viewers regularly watch the programmes that tackle development issues like watershed development, health, and panchayat raj, besides education and other social issues.
With emphasis laid on participatory and local issue programmes, over 85 talkback training sessions have been conducted with over 8,000 participants given training.
A pre-transmission survey had indicated that the overall level of general knowledge was very low. About 46 per cent of the population had never viewed television and majority of respondents had never participated in gram sabhas.
A mid-transmission survey indicated that awareness had increased among respondents and average attendance was 45 people per location.
The overall impact of the Jhabua programme is that there is an increase in farm produce, general awareness and lesser drinking.
System studies are being taken to replicate the project in Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Another major diversification would be witnessed in satellite-based training and developmental communications channel that has been in operation since 1995.
Using INSAT, the TDCC provides a unique one-way video and two-way audio system of interactive education where teaching includes a simple studio and uplink terminal for transmitting live or pre-recorded lectures.
The participants in the classrooms located nationwide, receive lectures through dish antennae and have facility to interact with lecturers using telephone lines.
TDCC is extensively used by the Indira Gandhi National Open University, National Dairy Development Board, State Bank of India and several other states including Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh for distant education in rural development, women and child development, panchayat raj and industrial training.
The availability of 375 receiver terminals set up by various user agencies is likely to go up to 2,000 soon.
It has also been decided to use new digital interactive techniques to improve the quality and capacity of the system. It would also enable offline downloading of lessons from servers at teaching end by the students.
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