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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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  Cloak And Dagger: Indo-Bangla Ties

Irrespective of who wins at the ballot, Bangladesh’s Hindu minority is persecuted by the losing side, as if it was their fault.

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed

 By:  Tania Bhattacharya           

 

Tania Bhattacharya
Tania Bhattacharya

Twenty-first of February is an important annual date for the peoples of both, Bangladesh, and West Bengal. On that day in nineteen fifty two, students of East Pakistan’s institutions of knowledge like Dhaka Medical College, had been mercilessly struck down, after they were fired upon by the soldiers of West Pakistan. Their crime? Bangla, the indigenous mother-tongue of all Bengalis, irrespective of religion and location, had been the prime focus of East Pakistan’s ‘Language Movement’. The seat of power, despite the East’s relatively larger demographic, had been, for all means and purposes, firmly lodged in the West, separated from the Eastern wing, by thousands of miles of territory belonging to the state of independent India. West Pakistan wielded absolute power over Pakistan’s army, its internal security, administration and the judicial system. Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Saraiki, and Sindhi, were the most recognized and respected lingua franca. Bengali was deemed by the West, to be a ‘Pagan’ language, the tongue of millions of ‘kaffirs’ that worshipped a plenitude of deities.

 

 

indo-bangla
Ansal-al-Islam supporters demand the death of Atheist bloggers.

The Bengalis, a people deeply protective of their cultural heritage, cutting across religious lines, took offense, and thus commenced the movement for the restoration of Bangla, as the legitimate representative of the East Bengalis. What followed, is well known, to South Asian History, enthusiasts. Exploiting the opportunity that had presented itself, and asphyxiated by more than ten million Bengali refugees who had migrated to eastern India in wake of ‘Operation Searchlight’ imposed by West Pakistan on its eastern wing, India had invaded the latter in the early December of 1971. The shortest war of modern history, had ended a fortnight later, with the emergence of an independent homeland, for all Bengali speaking peoples: Bangladesh.

Assam
An Indian publication reporting the Nellie Massacre of Assam.

Bangladesh turns forty-seven on the twenty sixth of March this year. Over the last nearly five decades, much water has flown under the bridge. Significantly, it has taken along with it, a bulk of the initial bonhomie and camaraderie, that Bangladesh and India shared with one another. From trustworthy allies, the two neighbours, have now entered a phase of grudging respect, but that too is often found in suspended animation, once anti-Indian regimes come to power in the other country. There are a number of reasons why India and Bangladesh have experienced a souring of relations over time, and much to the ordinary Indian’s chagrin, not all of the blame can be laid at our eastern neighbour’s door.

Pakistan
The 1971 surrender of West Pakistan.

BANGLADESHI CONCERNS

 

  1. A) WHAT’S IN A PICTURE? EVERYTHING!

Any patriotic Indian, often ruminates fondly over a well circulated photo that emerged in the December of 1971. It was taken during the capitulation of the West Pakistan army to India. The photo is held up by Indian nationalists, like a trophy and proudly referred to as the ultimate symbol of India’s crushing of Pakistan. This historic photo in question, has a sombre Lt. Gen. J.S. Arora, looking on, as a visibly demoralized Gen. A.A.K. Niazi of Pakistan signs the document of surrender. A sea of khaki and army green dot the backdrop of the image. Smiling soldiers of the Indian Defence Forces, can be seen interspersed between high ranking members of the Pakistan Army. However, remarkably, missing from the image, is the presence of the very people, who had had to sacrifice their life, their limb, and their precious dignity, to make their own independence happen.

Indira Gandhi
Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujib with Indira Gandhi. The two shared a close friendship.

As time has passed, millions of Bangladeshis have taken stock of the historic footage that seemed to signal their freedom day, and yet, they have asked: “Where are our people?” Yes, indeed. It is a photograph that, once the euphoria had died down, was bound to reveal its troubling nature. It may have been the defining moment for our own military men, but for the patriots within our newly born neighbour, this image is one of being slighted; of being overlooked, and insulted. Indians should have realized awhile back, that parading the said photo, was not a wise thing to do. The newly liberated nation, did not and to this day, cannot claim the image as their own, due to the complete absence of any East Bengali presence.

 

  1. B) WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE, BUT NOT A DROP TO DRINK!
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Bangladeshi atheists and freethinkers protest the murder of their own.

In 1996, Bangladesh and India had signed a treaty over the sharing of river waters. The agreement – known as the Ganges Treaty – had promised to equally divide the volume of river waters shared by the two nations. Waters of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna mega-basin, constitute the globe’s second largest hydraulic region, with a high population density inhabiting its banks. Simply put, the so-called division of water, is neither fair, and nor useful, to Bangladeshis. Through the Farakka Barrage, India, with its advanced systems of harvesting trans-boundary water, virtually controls the upstream flow of currents, which it then utilises without a care for the consequences being experienced by the people that live around the downstream currents of the barrage. As a result, Bangladesh has become a victim of environmental degradation which is a direct consequence of India’s water harvesting policy and techniques. Flora and Fauna, especially a variety of edible fish, important to our eastern neighbour, have either drastically lessened, or come close to extinction, due to callous and selfish, Indian interests over river-water sharing.

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A troublesome photo.

INDIAN CONCERNS

 

  1. A) THREE IS A CROWD!
assam

Illegal immigration into Assam from Bangladesh has created Distrust and concern among the locals.

A fundamental problem that posited itself even before the Liberation War in East Pakistan was over, and should have been a dark indicator of what was to come, was the deluge of refugees that had escaped the porous Indo-Pak border at its eastern end, and come to stay in India, as hopeful citizens. Even though Bangladesh is itself a witness to a refugee apocalypse in the form of the Rohingyas, they do not seem to be able to join the dots between their own problem, and that of India’s, for which their homegrown, poverty-stricken population is responsible. The Indian state which has borne the brunt of our refugee crisis, has been the north-easterly one of Assam. Bordering Bangladesh, this volatile Indian region has had to absorb the vast majority of illegals that continually transgress into our territories, by paying a small bribe to the jawans of the BSF (Border Security Forces), and obtaining false ration and identity cards. Bangladesh has chosen to delude itself by claiming time and again, that the alleged social scenario is an impossibility, accusing India instead, of tainting Indo-Bangla ties with our calumnies against them. In a heart-breaking tragedy that unfolded in the Nellie town of Assam in 1983, thousands of Muslims were slain by the local Assamese, over fear of the former’s illegal alien status.

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Bangladesh and India’s West Bengal do not see eye to eye over river water issues.

It must be acknowledged, that though a sizeable proportion of the deaths were of Indian Muslims who were unfortunately caught in the crosshairs; the remaining victims were indeed of Bangladeshi descent. The crisis could have been averted, if a national population census board had been specifically set up for the beleaguered Assam state, decades previously. But illegals from Bangladesh have been known to wade deeper into Indian territory, in hopes of a better life, and confirmed sources have located many such uprooted families living in the shanty dwellings of even megalopolises like Mumbai, which lie on the far-off western shores of India. If left unchecked, the Bangladeshi Illegal Aliens crisis, may snowball into a far greater threat than it is today. Given the pull of money, such individuals and indeed, families, may be willing to join insurgency operations that are threatening the fabric of unity that holds this country together.

 

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY!

India
India’s frie