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All India Radio: 415 Stations, 23 Languages, 146 Dialects and counting

In 1936, the name All India Radio was coined and earlier it used to be referred as the Indian State Broadcasting Service

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Akashvani Bhavan, Kolkata. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

August 24, 2016: President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday, August 23 launched the “Akashvani Maitree” Channel at a function organised at Raj Bhawan in Kolkata. The channel that was launched is a unique venture of All India Radio and is aimed at strengthening ties between India and Bangladesh.

Whole of Bangladesh and most of South East Asia will be covered through this channel. Apart from that, All India Radio has also come up with a multimedia website in Bangla airworldservice.org/bangla and it can be easily accessible through live streaming, text, and video. Apart from listeners in Bangladesh, it will also cater to Bengali Diaspora across the globe, reported IANS.

The progress of AIR reminds us of Walter Kaufmann, the man who composed the signature AIR tune in 1936. Walter was a Jewish refugee who found haven in India against the torture inflicted by Nazis on Jews. 1936 was also the year in which the name All India Radio coined, it used to be earlier referred as the Indian State Broadcasting Service. Since then the name was changed one more time to ‘Aakashwani’, which has been AIR’s official name since from 1956.

When India became Independent, it was in a dire need of a new language, a language that integrated the dialect of the people speaking different mother tongues. After all, India was a diverse nation that housed people of different communities speaking different languages. Ameen Sayani son of Kulsum Sayani, an 84-year-old woman who once played a significant role in the freedom movement, talks about the conversation she had with Mahatma Gandhi. “He said he wanted Hindustani — a blend of Hindi and Urdu, with no difficult words — to become the lingua franca of India. After Independence, it was a matter of pride to speak in Hindustani. More so, if you did it on AIR,” hence Hindustani was the language chosen.

Sayani was a veteran radio broadcaster and she joined in 1951. During her tenure, she tried popularizing songs from popular movies over Indian classical. This kind of music termed as ‘erotic and vulgar’ by then I&B minister who went ahead and put a ban on film music. It was then that Aruna Asaf Aliji came up to Sayani and said that she needed to do popular shows on AIR. When Sayani exclaimed that her hands were tied, Aruna spoke to Pt Nehru about this. Vividh Bharti, the commercial broadcast service of AIR, began in 1957 and Hindi film music returned to AIR.

All India Radio played a significant hand in promoting numerous arenas post-Indian Independence-

  • Most of the AIR audiences were people who were called the agrarian or the farmers. AIR was their only medium to promote agriculture since most of them were uneducated and lacked the skills to read or write. “We were talking directly to the farmers about modernisation, hybrid seeds etc. There were special agricultural advisory committees set up for the farmers. Which is why AIR played a big role in Green Revolution,” says F Sheheryar, director-general, All India Radio.
  • The chosen language, Hindustani was popularized through the radio. It had a definite influence on the language. This was the first mass medium and the nation began speaking like AIR. But also, there was some resistance from Tamil Nadu, who rejected Hindi in their schools and on radio,” says lyricist Swanand Kirkire.
  • Cricket owes its major chunk of popularity in India to AIR. Radio is where the cricket commentary started. “Initially, we wondered about the translation of cricket terms in Hindi. But the ball became ‘gend’ while googly remained, well, googly,” says BN Goel, former director of programme personnel, AIR.

Apart from that, PM Narendra Modi also appreciates the reach and importance of AIR. His periodic talk on the radio speaks volumes about his belief on how important is radio broadcasting as a medium.

– prepared by NewsGram team

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Interesting facts to know about Pranab Da : Ex President Mukherjee turns 82 today

Happy Bday Pranab Da! Here are some facts about our Former President Pranab Mukherjee

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Pranab Da
Pranab Mukherjee India Economic Summit 2009 (Wikipedia)
  • Ex-President Pranab Mukherjee turns 82 today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sends wishes

    Today social media was flooded with good wishes for Mukherjee from all over the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wished Pranab Mukherjee and said he prayed for his long and healthy life. Pranab Da was born this day in 1935 in Mirati, a village in the Bengal Presidency of British India (now in Birbhum district, West Bengal).

    President Ram Nath Kovind also wished Pranab Da on Twitter. “Birthday greetings and best wishes for a long and happy life to former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee, whom we affectionately call “Pranab Da”,” he tweeted. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu also wished him long life and good health. He said he admired him for his statesmanship.

    Follow NewsGram on Facebook : NewsGram.Com

    President Mukherjee
    Former President Pranab Mukherjee (Wikimedia Commons)

    Here are few facts about Pranab Da to know on his birthday :

    1.Before joining politics Pranab Da was a professor in Vidyasagar College in South 24 Paraganas in 1963.

    2. It was year 1969 when Pranab Mukherjee got his break in politics under mentorship of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi also got him elected as a member of Rajya Sabha.

    3. Pranab Mukherjee had also worked as a journalist with a local Bengali newspaper, named Desher Dak.

    4. Pranab Mukherjee served as Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012 and the Congress party’s top troubleshooter before being elected as President of India.

    5. While Presidentship, as the 13th President of India, he taught school children the political history of India on Teacher’s Day.

    6. After the demise of Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Pranab Mukherjee quit the Congress and formed his own political party, the Rashtriya Samajwadi Party.

    7. Pranab Mukherjee has served as Finance Minister in both Pre-Liberisation and Post-Liberisation eras

    8. After his appointment as the 13th President of India, Mukherjee has rejected seven mercy petitions including that of Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab.

    9. Pranab Da is also an avid book lover who used to read books for a long time and also written many books, including them the most famous was “The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years”.

    May Pranab Da live a long and healthy life and keep guiding us! Wish him a very happy Birthday.

    – by Shaurya Ritwik, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Rohingya Camp Refugees face Challenges in Family Planning Brought up by Bangladesh Officials

The Bangladesh Govt is promoting the use of contraceptives to promote family planning among Rohingya Muslims but there are still challenges to be faced

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One of the Rohingya Refugees settled in the hut with their fifth child
One of the Rohingya Refugees settled in the hut with their fifth child . BENAR.

Bangladesh, November 14: As Bangladesh’s government struggled this week to persuade residents of overcrowded refugee camps to use contraceptives as part of a new push to promote family planning among Rohingya Muslims, Nurul Islam’s wife gave birth to their fifth child.

Three-day-old Ayesha was born Tuesday in a tiny, one-room hut in Teknaf upazila (sub-district) in Cox’s Bazar district that her parents and four brothers have called home for the past two months since they fled a fresh cycle of violence and atrocities allegedly committed against the Rohingya minority by the military in neighboring Myanmar.

Islam was elated at what he described as his “latest achievement.”

“Having a child shows that you are a strong man. I now have five of them,” the 32-year-old told BenarNews proudly. “And I will try for more,” he added with an air of confidence.

Unlike most other members of his community, Islam said, he was aware of birth control procedures but wasn’t interested because the practice was “considered a sin.”

“I know what a condom is… but have never used one,” he said – a telling statement uttered by a majority of Rohingya that prompted the family planning office of Cox’s Bazar to introduce birth control steps in about 15 refugee camps sheltering nearly 1 million members of the displaced group.

More than 600,000 of them, including about 20,000 pregnant women, have arrived in southeastern Bangladesh from Buddhist-majority Myanmar since its military launched a counter-offensive in response to insurgent attacks in Rakhine state on Aug. 25, according to the latest estimates from the United Nations.

Rohingya Refugee Camps set up by Bangladesh Government
Rohingya Refugee Camps set up by Bangladesh Government. Wikimedia.

‘Deep-rooted problem’

Officials with the Directorate of Family Planning, which is connected to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, launched the birth control program in Rohingya camps in September.

But soon after, they realized they were “only scratching the surface of a deep-rooted problem,” Pintu Kanti Bhattacharjee, the department’s deputy director, told BenarNews.

“A majority of Rohingya, who are largely uneducated, are not aware of birth control measures. The ones who are aware are convinced that family planning methods conflict with their faith,” he said, adding, “We then realized we were faced with a huge challenge.”

Before the refugee crisis exploded in late August, Bhattacharjee’s department had about 50 workers.

“We have hired about 200 people over the past few weeks and still feel the need for more staff,” he said. The near 250 health workers operate out of 13 offices in Ukhia and Teknaf sub-districts and “go door-to-door to educate Rohingya about the benefits of family planning.”

“So far, we have managed to talk about birth control with 150,000 Rohingya. We convinced 7,500 of them to take contraceptive measures like condoms, pills and injections,” Bhattacharjee said.

‘I would like to opt for birth control

Islam, the refugee who became a father for the fifth time this week, was among the unconvinced multitude.

“Our children are Allah’s gift to us. We will accept as many as he gives us,” he said, as he prepared to walk 1 km (0.6 mile) to the nearest food distribution center to bring his family something to eat.

“Allah will take care of them,” he added, before disappearing into the crowd of refugees rushing to get ration supplies.

Islam’s wife, Amina Khatun, 24, said she did not agree with her husband.

“If they [family planning workers] come here, I would like to opt for birth control,” she told BenarNews.

She had their first child when she was 16 years old, two years after getting married. Over the next eight years she delivered four more children. All of them, including the latest addition to their family, were born at home with help from women in the neighborhood.

“It’s not easy to take care of so many children. And my husband wants to have more,” Khatun said exhaustedly as she breastfed her newborn.

Abdul Muktalif, 57, a camp leader in Teknaf, said that all Rohingya couples had “at least five children in hopes that the more kids they have, the more money they will bring in when they grow up.”

Muktalif, who has been living at the Leda camp for the last 14 years, has 15 children – the youngest 1 year old – from three wives.

Officials weigh voluntary sterilization

Bhattacharjee said his office was mulling the idea of providing voluntary sterilization to Rohingya but “cannot implement it unless the Ministry (of Health and Family Welfare) approves it.”

In a statement issued Thursday, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said: “Simply offering sterilization would be a narrow and unethical approach.

“Family planning is a matter of individual choice, should be completely voluntary, and women, girls and couples should have access to the widest method mix for them to choose from complemented by adequate information and counseling on available methods and services,” it said. (Benar)

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India will soon ask Malaysia to extradite Preacher Zakir Naik

India will soon approach Malaysia with a request to extradite hardline Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

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India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik
India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik. wikimedia commons
  • India will seek the Malaysian government’s help in extraditing televangelist Zakir Naik who faces charges of money laundering and inciting hatred through his sermons broadcast on Peace TV, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Zakir Naik obtained permanent residency in Malaysia 

Officials will approach their Malaysian counterparts with the extradition request sometime within the next two weeks, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told a weekly news briefing in New Delhi.

“Any formal request seeking the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition requires a completion of the internal legal process involving consultation with other ministries involved in the case,” Kumar said.

“At this stage, we are nearing the completion of this process and as soon as this process is complete we will be making an official request to the Malaysian government in this matter,” Kumar said. “It could be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. But it would be soon and the nature of our request would also be clear.”

Naik fled India a month before terrorist carried out a massacre at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July 2016. This week, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said the Islamic preacher legally obtained permanent residency in the country, and that Malaysian authorities would arrest him only if he broke local laws or was found to be involved in terrorist activities.

Naik’s speeches allegedly inspired some of the militants who carried out the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka, where 29 people, including 20 hostages and five gunmen, were killed.

In November 2016, the Indian government banned Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation, which partly funded the Peace TV channel that is banned in India, Bangladesh and several other countries.

Kumar said because the Indian government had knowledge of Naik’s whereabouts, the legal procedures would be tailored to requirements between the two countries in their extradition treaty.

Advocate challenges charges

“Naik is being hounded because he hails from a minority community. The charges that the investigating agencies are trying to frame are all stale and are hardly incriminating,” advocate S. Hariharan told BenarNews in a phone interview from Delhi.

“The charges lack veracity and would not stand scrutiny in the court of law. We will be challenging the extradition and deportation.”

Last week, the Indian government filed a 61-page charge sheet against Naik alleging he was involved in a criminal conspiracy by lauding terrorist organizations. In April, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in an alleged case of money laundering through his NGO and a shell company.

In Malaysia meanwhile, the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has urged the government to ignore any request from India to extradite Zakir Naik, Reuters reported.

“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang wrote last week in an opinion piece published in Harakah Daily.(BenarNews)