All India Radio preferably called Akashvaani has been the official voice of the country for years. This premier institution completed 80 years of its existence a few days back. Great personalities like Ameen Sayani, Sunil Dutt, Utpal Dutt and Pran Chopra have been a part of this institution.
Such is the standard of this remarkable institution that even Amitabh Bachchan failed to pass AIR’s grade certification exam.
Winning several accolades over time AIR has garnered its fair share of criticism. Many accuse that with the change of an era, AIR has failed to evolve itself. Private radio broadcasting stations have taken over AIR’s listenership. AIR has lost its former glory due to its bureaucratic approach and lack of experimentation.
Akashvaani in not an entertainment station!
Each institution is set up to serve a basic purpose. Akashvaani had its role cut out since its inception. Not to merely provide entertainment (we had Radio Ceylon for that) but to act as a platform that threads the country into one single unit.
The country does not comprise of people who only enjoy YoYo Honey Singh or Bollywood songs. There are some who have a specific taste in music and it is none other than AIR that can fulfil their yearnings.
AIR is the only broadcaster that provides programs in regional languages. AIR dedicates minimum 18 hours a week to programs that provide information regarding crops, seeds and other aspects of agriculture.
No other broadcasting station has dedicated its resources to help out the farmers of the country.
The various feathers on AIR’s Cap
AIR employs children from the tender age of five and no, it is not child labour. Half the programs broadcasted are in collaboration with the Department of National Welfare and AIR charges nothing to broadcast them.
AIR holds several world records and has the authority to issue QSL cards. Not many broadcasting stations in the world have this privilege.
AIR as a Government Organization
Now some may say that it enjoys such position because it’s a government organization. After all, Modi speaks his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ here. But with great power comes great responsibility.
The pay of AIR workers is less than any other government employee. The workers go through regular tests and can be removed if they fail to pass even one of these tests. AIR pays for its own establishments with no money pouring in from the government.
AIR has stood by its motto of ‘Everyone’s welfare and happiness’ all through these 80 years. From rural folks to city dwellers, ghazal fans to Bollywood music it has successfully catered to a plethora of audience. To be or not to be proud of this institution is upon an individual but no one can deny its contribution to the country.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.