A Bangla radio service, launched in 1971 during the Bangladesh Liberation Movement and discontinued in 2010, will again go on air on June 28. Officials said that once India restarts the service in its new avatar, Akashvani Maitree, it would be a unique broadcast service in which two nations would jointly create content.
The Special Bangla Service of All India Radio had been launched in the wake of the Bangladesh Liberation Movement and played a key role during the war, broadcasting Indian news bulletins in Bangladesh. It continued till April 2010, but was discontinued thereafter due to decommissioning of the Super Power Transmitter at Chinsurah.
Explaining the rationale behind relaunching the service, an official explained, “In view of the important place Bangladesh occupies in India’s foreign policy, it was felt imperative that this dedicated service is strengthened, contemporised and re-launched. Earlier, the radio service ran for 6 hours 30 minutes daily, but the new Akashvani Maitree will run 16 hours a day.”
The official added that a state-of-the-art 1,000 KW DrM transmitter has been installed in Chinsurah in Bengal to enable the service to be broadcasted across the length and breadth of Bangladesh.
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The content will be curated to ensure that it benefits the audience in Bangladesh, said the official, adding that the service would cover issues ranging from healthcare to agriculture. “India, particularly West Bengal, and Bangladesh belong to similar agro-climatic zones. Hence, knowledge of best practices in the field can be shared in programmes relating to agriculture. Similarly, a large number of people from Bangladesh come for treatment to India.
A programme series profiling different premier medical institutes, super speciality treatments available here, procedures to be followed for availing these services, tentative costs, visa facilitation etc. is also proposed to be broadcast on the service,” added the official.
Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar said the service was meant specifically for the people of Bangladesh and will primarily be in Bangla.
“This service is specially meant to cater to the people of Bangladesh and would mostly be in Bengali, highlighting the common cultural heritage that connects India and its neighbour. While earlier programmes of this service were produced solely by AIR, the new service will invite Bangladeshi artistes and personalities to participate. It is, perhaps, unique in world radio broadcast,” he said.
Officials said AIR was trying to work out an arrangement with FM stations in Bangladesh to relay Akashvani Maitree programmes so as to ensure better service in hinterland Bangladesh.
But apart from being available to people in Bangladesh and India, the service would also be accessible to the Bengali diaspora across the world through AIR’s website, airworldservice.org and mobile apps, said officials.