Unity in diversity, the edifice of the multi-cultural nation we are, may suffer a severe blow if the Centre goes ahead with its plan to get rid of regional language services from AIR. Or is this an attempt to give private channels an edge and slowly render AIR irrevelant?
It is unfortunate that the All India Radio is planning to remove regional language news from its services. Having different languages is what makes India linguistically rich. They are the wealth of the nation. To confine news to just English, Hindi and Kashmiri, is a short sighted policy on their part. Because of this step taken by them, people will begin to rely on private channels more. From my time to now, the way we receive news has changed. People no longer rely on official media channels only. They are using more of social media now. If AIR does not take into account the variety in languages, people will find other platforms through social media, to express themselves. People communicate in their respective languages on these platforms, in India and abroad. This change is thanks to the IT revolution and has reduced the dependence on radio.
When I was growing up in Punjab, we would rely on only the radio and did not even own a TV. This was during the the 1950s, after Independence, when everyone was full of optimism and the music and programmes on radio were entertaining. They would play songs in all languages. We also had Vividh Bharti and in North India, the radio stations would also have an Urdu songs service. There would be rural centric programmes for farmers, like folk songs and poems, which they found enjoyable. Apart from these, there was the 9 o clock news. All this has been given up now since programmes for rural areas have taken a backseat.
It is not even about the importance of broadcasting news in recognized languages. Even the regional languages like Tulu, Rajasthani, Maitili, Bhojpuri, Braj,Kodava that are not recognized by the constitution should be included by the All India Radio. We must preserve our linguistic richness and culture, including dialects as well. For example, we have to highlight not just mainstream Kannada, but also Gulbarga Kannada spoken with a touch of Urdu, Belgaum Kannada spoken with an influence of Marathi and more....