The Jhabua Development Communication Project (JDP or JDCP) was a development project started on November 1, 1996 aimed to promote development and education. It used satellite-based broadcasting to support development and education in remote areas.

Madhya Pradesh

A state in central India with 72 million residents. It is the second largest state by area. Literacy as of 2011 was 69.32%. Madhya Pradesh has a large number of ethnic groups, tribes, castes, and communities. Scheduled castes make up 15.6% of the population while 21.1% consist of scheduled tribes. Gond, Bhil, Baiga, Korku, and Bhadia are some of the main tribal groups in Madhya Pradesh.


Jhabua is a district in Madhya Pradesh, India. It is predominantly a tribal district with 85% of the population speaking one of the many Bhili dialects. According to the 2001 census, conducted just a few years after the JDCP experiment, the literacy rate was found to be 41.4%. In 1991, the population of the Jhabua district was at 646,924. In 2001, there were 224,588 households in Jhabua district. Out of those, 202,160 were in rural areas. Jhabua mainly consists of Adivasis. According to the 2011 census, Adivasis make up 8.6% of India’s population and make up 87% of the population of Jhabua.


JDCP was funded by ISRO. It was part of a series of experiments that used satellite communication to fuel development and education. It was implemented by the Development and Educational Communication Unit (DECU). Satellite Instructional Television Experiment or SITE carried out jointly by NASA and ISRO, was a project to bring television to Indian homes, especially rural ones. This took place in 1975.

The Kheda Communication Project (KCP) began in 1975 too. Both these experiments are considered monumental in Indian history. SITE covered more than 2400 villages across 20 districts.

Jhabua was chosen due to its large tribal population. The literacy rate was around 15%. Infant mortality rates were high, communication facilities were low, and there was economic and social backwardness.


The Jhabua Development Communication Project (JDCP) was a joint collaborative activity of Development and Educational Communication Unit (DECU), Space Applications Centre (SAC), Government of Madhya Pradesh, Ministry of Rural Development of the Government of India and District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) of Jhabua District. It used INSAT(Indian National Satellite System) for developmental communication.

The project had two primary components:

  1. Broadcasting: JDCP broadcasted development-oriented programmes five days a week, from Monday to Friday. These broadcasts aimed to reach a wide audience with relevant and timely information.
  2. Interactive Training Programmes (ITPs): Conducted in the afternoon, these programmes targeted panchayat, block, and district-level functionaries, providing them with interactive training and resources.

The project initially installed 150 Direct Reception System/Set (DRS) terminals in selected locations within the Jhabua district.

Additionally, 12 Talk Back DRS terminals, which could receive TV and transmit audio, were installed in the 12 block headquarters in the Jhabua district. These are pivotal as they made the program interactive and more participatory. These allowed villagers to ask questions, provide feedback, and report on the progress.

The DECU TV Studio in Ahmedabad served as the teaching end for live interactive TV sessions and also handled the transmission of recorded TV programmes.

The areas covered for programme production were diverse, ranging from agriculture, animal husbandry, poultry, fisheries, watershed, forestry, environment, education, health and hygiene, employment, government schemes, Panchayati Raj, to social issues like alcoholism, crime, dowry, witch doctors, superstitions, and excessive expenditure on marriage and death.

The project also produced informative and educational programmes during elections and campaigns for pulse polio and vaccinations.

Children constituted a major component of the daily viewership, and while women were found in smaller numbers, they formed an important part of the target audience. Several programmes were specifically designed to attract and hold the attention of these special target groups. The flow of information was two-way. Information was both upwards and downwards. Researching was an extremely important part of the experiment. A large number of individuals, agencies and institutes were involved in the production and research process and the studies were divided into three categories:

  1. Formative Research: Research carried out before the production of programme. Aimed at determining the communication needs, determining the priorities, estimating the initial levels of knowledge, attitude and practices so that appropriate communication strategies and programming approaches could be developed. Formative research also includes pretesting of television programmes.
  2. Process Research: Process research is undertaken to find out the progress of the project in terms of its utilisation, usefulness, comprehension, and relevance so that mid-course corrections, change of emphasis, change in communication approach and strategy can be brought about.
  3. Summative Research: Aimed at finding the overall impact. determining whether the aims of the project to bring about visible and measurable effects in the priority areas like watershed management, health, education and other subject areas were fulfilled and to what extent.


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 the majority of respondents had never participated in gram sabhas. According to a mid-term evaluation made in April 1998,

  • 50.3% of males and 37.2% of females had viewed JDCP programmes
  • Average attendance 40 persons per day per DRS
  • Younger people were more likely to view JDCP programmes
  • Nearly 75% of viewers discuss JDCP programmes with others
  • About 75% viewers called JDCP programmes interesting, 45% reporting gain of new information
  • About 25% felt that JDCP programmes had a positive impact in all areas.

The main areas where the respondents could feel the improvement:

  • farm improvement (37%)
  • awareness of health (28%)
  • awareness of the Panchayati Raj (20%)
  • reduced consumption of alcohol (20%)

Over 85 talkback training sessions had been conducted with over 8,000 participants given training (as of 1999). A mid-transmission survey indicated that awareness had increased among respondents.

Though it cannot be singularly attributed to JDCP, the literacy rate not only increased but the gaps in literacy closed in.


JDCP was a great effort in using satellite communication for developmental communication. Learnings from SITE and Kheda Communication Project were used to better JDCP, JDCP is especially important as it demonstrates two-way flow of information that is vital for development communication.