Indian state broadcaster, All India Radio, which also runs various programmes in foreign languages, is to boost its programming in neighbouring Pakistan’s disturbed province, Balochistan; the action likely a result of Indian PM’s Independence Day speech.
It is not the first time that public radio is being used as a political tool. A national broadcaster usually provides an apt platform for diplomatic solutions and bond-building. This time around it is the revamping of All India Radio’s services to neighbouring Pakistani province, Balochistan. The remodelling of programmes comes after Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s mention of the unstable region in a recent speech.
While addressing the nation on its 70th Independence Day, Modi mentioned Balochistan and Pakistan government’s treatment of the Balochis. While Modi’s sympathy for Balochistan was met by vitriolic reactions from Islamabad, the Balochis rejoiced finding a voice from across the border. AIR has since decided to extend its transmission to Balochistan, which shares a sizeable border with India.
AIR’s External Service Division (ESD) runs daily programmes across 57 transmissions in 27 languages, 15 of which are foreign, including Baluchi, the language spoken in and around Balochistan. The ESD also runs programmes in Arabic, Burmese, French, Indonesian, Persian, Pushtu, Russian, Sinhala, Swahili, Thai, Tibetan and English. It has been broadcasting in Baluchi since 1974. The daily one hour service broadcasts the news, commentary, Baluchi songs and Indian film music among other programmes and now the authorities are revamping the service by adding more programmes. The Baluchi service runs on the Short Wave format.
“Although the service is very old, the orders of revamping it could be because of the PM’s speech on Independence day,” a senior official from the Balochi service of the ESD told Media India Group. “The programmes are being worked upon, but the nature of content cannot be commented on right now,” he added.
“In the last few days, there have been talks of Gilgit, PoK and Balochistan. People from these places have expressed their gratitude and have thanked me. I am very grateful and thankful to them. I have never met them, they live far away, but the fact that they are appreciating me is a matter of respect for the people of India,” Modi said.
The AIR development provides further evidence of India’s resolve of speaking for the oppressed across the border, and the news has been welcomed by the locals and the leaders of Balochistan alike.