August 23rd 2016 is a red letter day in the annals of broadcasting not only in India but perhaps in the entire world, when "AKASHVANI MAITREE" a unique venture of All India Radio in creation of common platform and participatory content creation for listeners in India and Bangladesh is launched by the Hon'ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee in a function held in the Governors house Kolkata.
For over eight decades now, as one of the world’s largest broadcasting networks, All India Radio has been broadcasting for listeners within and outside the country on plethora of channels in different languages through varied modes and platforms. However, “AKASHVANI MAITREE” is maiden venture of AIR which shall provide opportunity for blending of contents from field of art, culture, literature, music, music, sports, shared socio-economic issue etc both from India and Bangladesh transcending the political boundary. The concept of this unique channel emanates from the decision during visit of Hon'ble Prime Minister to Dhaka for initiating steps to ensure content sharing among the broadcast organisation of the two nations for closer cultural, economic, political and emotional bonding between the two neighbours. This channel has potential for making stellar contribution in taking forward the initiative of the Hon'ble Prime Minister and the present government to usher in an era of good and meaningful neighbourly relation not only with Bangladesh but also creating an atmosphere of amity and positivity in the entire SAARC region. No other International Broadcaster has ever initiated any such venture where people from two nations can partake in content creation together. “MAITREE” channel shall source its content from the state owed ‘Bangladesh Betar’. To make its Programme popular, interesting and participatory in nature, “AKASHVANI MAITREE” also proposes to produce and broadcast programmes in the nature of reality shows, music and quiz competitions, discussions where participants from both the countries can take part.
The content of the channel is also so oriented to make it useful and utilitarian in nature for listeners on both side of the border For example, since India has Made huge strides in fields of agriculture and allied sectors through scientific research, as a leading country of the region India such knowledge will be shared as India particularly Bengal and Bangladesh belong to the same agro-climatic zone. Similarly a large number of persons from Bangladesh come for treatment in hospitals in Kolkata and other parts of India. A programme series profiling different premier medical institutes of India, super speciality treatments available there, contacting procedure, tentative cost/ comparative costs with other developed countries visa facilitation etc. to attract more medical tourists from Bangladesh shall be Broadcast.
The quantum of News and current affairs programme has also been enhanced with emphasise to News and happenings in the sub continent and relating to the two countries. This will help in better understanding and appreciation of each others positions and points of view on different issues on perspectives in the face of misleading propaganda by some countries in our neighbourhood with whom we have a Zero-sum relations reaching out to Bangladesh through their Bengali language of Broadcast.
The Special Bangla Service of All India Radio which was the precursor to “AKASHVANI MAITREE” and was launched in the wake of Bangladesh Liberation Movement in 1971 played a historic and significant role during the Liberation movement. The service continued to be very popular till the time of its closure in April 2010 when the same was discontinued due to decommissioning of the Super Power Transmitter (SPT) at Chinsurah. During his last visit to India, the Hon’ble President of Bangladesh showered lavish praise on the channel for its yeoman contribution. In view of the important place Bangladesh occupies in India’s foreign policy for foreign relations, it was felt imperative that this dedicated service is strengthened, contemporised and re-launched. This channel will now be launched from the State of the art brand new high power 1000 KW DRM transmitter installed at Chinsurah in West Bengal with a capacity to cover the entire length and breadth of Bangladesh. The duration of the Broadcast of the channel has also been increased from 06 hrs 30 minutes to 16 hrs per day. Thus the AKASHVANI MAITREE in this new avatar will definitely endear well in the hearts of the listeners in Bangladesh.
The vision and mission of this service is to foster good neighbourly relations with Bangladesh by focusing on our shared history, culture, heritage, many common challenges faced by the two nations, possible areas of cooperation etc. and providing a platform for people to people contact through the medium of Radio and emphasise on the fact that the future of our two nations are intertwined. Through its content, MAITREE channel shall also highlight India as a tourist, healthcare and education destination, possible joint ventures and economic cooperation etc.
All India Radio has also come up with a multimedia website in Bangla airworldservice.org/bangla of comparable standard to the websites of other International Broadcasters having live-streaming, text and video with accessibility through mobile apps by the Bengali Diaspora world over besides listeners in Bangladesh.
Efforts are also being made to work out arrangements with local FM stations etc. through MEA/MHA to relay/Broadcast “AKASHVANI MAITREE” Programmes to ensure better penetration into hinterland Bangladesh as has been done by other International Broadcaster.