Tune in to Uttar Pradesh's human radio
"It's 4.15 in the morning...time for the weather report," crackles a loudspeaker perched atop a temple here. For the next 30 minutes, the voice dispenses several useful nuggets of information, including train schedules and local news, a pattern not broken for the last two decades. An efficient community radio service? Actually, it's a 59-year-old lab chemist.
Meet Raj Narayan Mishra, a delightful one-man radio station.
"I have been doing it since 1988. I rise early at around 3 a.m. and after getting fresh, I straightway head to the temple to make the announcements," says Mishra, a senior lab chemist in the Kanpur Medical College.
The temple he is referring to is located a few metres away from his house in Rura town, some 150 km from Lucknow, where he has set up his 'information centre'.
"Be it train timings or information about government health camps or missing people, I try my best to provide every kind of information that could benefit the locals," he added.
Mishra uses eight loudspeakers - four at the temple complex and the rest spread out over various residential areas - to reach the maximum number of people.
"The announcements have not only become a routine for me but have also become an integral part of the lives of the locals. They appreciate me for assisting them in planning their day-to-day activities," said Mishra, who makes the public announcements twice daily.
"While in the morning, I start making announcements from 4 a.m., in the evening, they start from 5.30. In both the shifts, the announcements last for around 30 minutes," he added.
Asked what inspired him to set up this information centre, Mishra said: "I always wanted to serve the people but did not know how to do it. During that period, I came across several people who faced difficulty in enquiring about train timings.
"At that time, mobile phones were not common and landline phones were confined to affluent families. It was then that I decided to make the announcements for informing the locals about the status of trains. With the passage of time and the announcements' popularity, I widened the ambit."
His information web comprises newspapers, TV and radio.
"Sometimes, locals approach me directly whenever they have to make an announcement about missing people or any lost object," he said.
And how does his audience feel about the homegrown RJ?
"He is doing a great job. I don't set any alarm for the morning, I have developed a habit of opening my eyes only after listening to his announcements," said Anand Swaroop, a phone booth owner.
Another local, Ramendra Singh, said: "What Mishra has been doing is really laudable. He gives a lesson to all of us on how social service can be done with limited resources." - IANS