By AREEBA FALAK | NEW DELHI | SUNDAY GUARDIAN LIVE
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mention of Pakistan’s human rights violations in Balochistan in his Independence Day speech, public broadcaster All India Radio’s (AIR) show in Balochi language, which is said to be “one of the worst managed” overseas transmissions in the division, is set for a major overhaul. The public broadcaster is keenly looking to recruit more Balochi-speaking people who can help improve the quality of its show in Balochi language.
At present, AIR has only two Balochi speaking people who have been helping with the daily one-hour programme transmitted to Balochistan. A senior AIR official, on the condition of anonymity, said, “There has always been a dearth of Balochi speaking people here. Even before Balochistan got attention in mainstream Indian media, we had been working to improve our Balochi show. For years, we had been writing to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs to help us get some talented people from Balochistan who can work with us on improving content in our Balochi shows. ”
The official added, “There has been no direct discussions yet on how to improve the quality of the Balochi show, but since India’s acknowledgement of the Baloch people’s cause, we had been expecting that some major changes will be made to the existing Balochi programme. Since we are gradually switching from short-wave to a web-based service now, all our overseas shows in various languages are already starting to get more human resource. We have more funds to invest on quality of our programmes. Earlier, such funds were largely spent on the maintenance of short-wave machinery.”
Speaking about the relevance of Indian overseas shows, another official said, “There is no way for us to know how many people are listening to our shows in the target areas. We have a feedback service through which we can get a rough idea on our listenership. Recently, we started a new channel ‘Maitree’ in Bangladesh. We were informed that AIR had a large listener database there. But as the Balochi show has never been a thriving one, we really have no idea of who is listening there and how many are listening to us. In any case, Bollywood is a great attraction on our western border, which is why some due listenership will definitely be there.”
Currently, the External Services Division (ESD) of AIR produces an hour-long programme in Balochi language, which consists of news, press review and commentary, along with Bollywood songs. According to sources, the duration of the 10-minute long news bulletin will also be increased.